The Delaware Center for Horticulture and Food Bank of Delaware are partnering with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to expand the regional reach of PHS’s Harvest 2020 initiative, focused on increasing food production and addressing food insecurity.
This partnership expands the reach of the program throughout Delaware, asking gardeners and individuals to become growers (someone who grows food for themselves and their family), sharers (one who commits to donating food through hunger-relief organizations or directly within their communities) or donors (someone who supports Harvest 2020 efforts through a monetary donation) to fight hunger.
Harvest 2020 is a multifaceted initiative aimed at mobilizing gardening enthusiasts and others in the region to help people in underserved communities. As architect of the initiative, PHS has encouraged thousands of gardeners to participate in these efforts. For Delaware, DCH will serve as lead coordinating entity for outreach promotion, engagement with other Delaware partner agencies and organizations, and impact tracking.
The Food Bank of Delaware will support collection and distribution efforts. The expected collective action from Harvest 2020 will bring a stronger focus to food insecurity while teaching people to garden more productively, collecting thousands of pounds of fresh produce for hunger-relief organizations, building long-lasting relationships among gardeners and hunger-relief organizations, and continuing PHS’s vision of using horticulture to advance the health and well-being of local communities.
“Many of our neighbors in the region have struggled to access enough food to live a healthy and active life,” said Matt Rader, PHS president. “PHS is able to bring together people and organizations across the region to garden for the greater good. The Delaware Center for Horticulture and the Food Bank of Delaware will champion the Harvest 2020 initiative and help address food insecurity throughout the state of Delaware. We look forward to their combined efforts as part of this initiative.”
Harvest 2020 has been designed for anyone to participate – from individuals who haven’t gardened before and are looking for healthy food for their family – to those with gardening expertise who can grow enough to share and help support food banks that serve those most in need.
“We are incredibly proud to be a part of this vitally important effort led by PHS to engage our extensive network of home and community gardeners to help feed our communities with locally grown fruits and vegetables,” said Vikram Krishnamurthy, DCH executive director. “We know the need to address food insecurity is real, now more than ever. Building on the Food Bank of Delaware’s collection and distribution network, we are proud to bring our urban agriculture and education expertise together with partners to mobilize our networks and make a sizable impact on this significant need.”
The initiative is timely, with the food-growing season underway and with the increased demand for fresh food during the COVID-19 crisis. In Delaware, 121,850 people, or 1 in 8, struggle with hunger – and of those, 38,680 are children. Many food pantries have experienced a 50 percent increase in demand over the last several weeks, heightening the need for broad collective action.
“The economic impact from COVID-19 has been far-reaching,” said Sanjay Malik, Food Bank of Delaware interim CEO. “Because of the pandemic, we anticipate that an additional 50,000 Delawareans will experience food insecurity this year. Getting fresh fruits and vegetables into the hands of those who need it most is a critical part of our operation. We are thankful for the opportunity to partner on this initiative so gardeners can share their bounties with our neighbors in need.”
To support Harvest 2020, DCH recently received $10,000 in funding from the DCF/Philanthropy Delaware COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to serve as lead agency for implementation of the campaign in Delaware. With the grant funding, DCH plans to coordinate outreach and marketing efforts to Delaware gardeners and engage local nonprofits, agencies and gardens to become a part of the effort; coordinate efforts with FBD for drop-off sites and collection for distribution channels; create and share free horticultural education videos as part of DCH’s new Green Thumb series, specifically geared toward supporting the Harvest 2020 campaign; and distribute later-season seeds and plant starts to communities/individuals in need to promote vegetable gardening.
For more information on Harvest 2020 or to pledge as a grower, sharer, donor or sponsor, go to www.PHSonline.org/harvest2020/overview.