Gardeners, farmers market shoppers asked to set aside extra produce to combat local hunger

 

UT Farmers Market produce
​Knoxville-area community members are asked to plant extra in their gardens this spring and to bring their extra bounty, once grown, to the UT Farmers Market at the UT Gardens on Neyland Drive. Donations for the Grow More Give More project will be collected beginning June 5 and distributed by the Society of St. Andrew to cooperating agencies.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In a society as wealthy and advanced as the United States, it is hard to believe that more than 40 million Americans, including 17 million children, go hungry each year. Of those hungry Americans, 840,000 reside in the state of Tennessee.
 
To help address hunger in Tennessee, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and the Society of St. Andrew are partnering on an effort called “Grow More, Give More.” The initiative has the sole goal of providing fresh produce to our hungry neighbors in Tennessee. It depends on the charity of gardeners, farmers and farmers market shoppers.

Although the effort is statewide in focus, Knoxville-area community members are asked to plant extra in their gardens this spring and to bring their extra bounty, once grown, to the UT Farmers Market at the UT Gardens on Neyland Drive. The Farmers Market at the UT Gardens will be open on Wednesdays from 4 – 7 p.m. beginning May 15, although donations for the Grow More Give More project will be collected beginning June 5. 

If you’re not a gardener, you may choose to donate produce purchased from a farmers market or from your local grocer. Additional donation sites will be located around campus and publicized prior to June 5. Volunteers from the Institute of Agriculture will collect the extra, donated or near-expiration produce from these locations and deliver it to the UT Farmers Market, where the Society of St. Andrew will collect donations for distribution to designated local agencies. All food will be donated free of charge, with the motto “freely given — freely given away.”

In the Knoxville area, the Society of St. Andrew works with many organizations including the Knoxville Area Rescue Mission, the Volunteer Ministry Center, the Salvation Army, Positively Living, FISH Hospitality Pantries and the Love Kitchen.

Amy Caponetti, human resources coordinator with UT AgResearch, and Jean Hulsey, assistant director of UTIA Marketing and Communications, have teamed together to spearhead the initiative for the UT Institute of Agriculture, beginning on the Knoxville campus. 

“We are really thrilled to be participating in such a worthwhile effort, and one that has such an obvious connection to the institute,” said Caponetti, who is also working with student groups from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and other UT Knoxville student groups to coordinate volunteers for the program. “We need folks to help manage the collection boxes on Wednesdays and to help with food delivery,” she said.

Hulsey is passionate about the program and how it will address deep-rooted social needs. She’s excited to help her unseen neighbors but is also using the initiative to teach her 9-year-old son compassion. “Grow More, Give More allows individuals to help others in a personal way. My son and I are definitely not farmers, but we’ve planted cantaloupes, carrots and bell peppers to share.” 

Hulsey is also pleased that the initiative is a zero-waste produce drive. “Food that is damaged or too old for people to consume will be donated to the zoo for animals,” she said.
 
UT AgResearch and Education Centers across the state that grow produce as part of their research mission have also been invited to contribute to the initiative. The initiative is expected to expand next year to include county Extension offices and 4-H clubs across the state. In addition, Caponetti says she is hoping to expand into surrounding communities and to develop partnerships with local business in support of this project. She is working with the society and off-campus locations to coordinate participation.

The Society of St. Andrews is an ecumenical, non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to faith and service. Since 1983, the Society of St. Andrew has salvaged fresh, nutritious produce from American farms — produce that otherwise would be left to rot — and delivered it to agencies across the nation that serve the poor. For more information, call Linda Tozer, program coordinator for the Tennessee Gleaning Network at 615-878-9233 or gleantn@endhunger.org.  You may also visit the website: http://www.endhunger.org

The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.
 
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Contact:

Amy Caponetti, 865-974-4506, acap@utk.edu