May 11, 2021
Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County (JFCS) is asking the community to help keep the agency pantry stocked with fresh produce throughout the spring and summer by harvesting from their very own gardens.
In years past, the JFCS pantry has been able to accept limited donations of fresh produce but now with the mobile food pantry going out 3-5 times per week, there is significantly increased demand for a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The on-site food pantry also continues to see high use, with 80-100 visits per month.
“We always appreciate the donations from local individuals or even community gardens as it provides variety to the produce we usually offer,” said Beth Englezos, JFCS Manager of Hunger Prevention. “While we are able to store and distribute fresh and frozen produce from our regular food providers, there is something extra special about being able to give out locally grown, fresh from the garden items to our clients.”
JFCS is tying into the national Plant-a-Row initiative which encourages individuals to plant items in their personal or communal gardens for the specific purpose of harvesting to donate to local food pantries.
In addition to encouraging local gardeners to contribute to the food pantry, JFCS is also working to provide clients the tools to grow their own produce as well. Recently, the agency was able to provide tomato plant seedlings to clients. JFCS agency has a relationship with Abe’s Acres Farm, located in Hightstown, where agency staff bring specific cardboard waste – collected through regular, large-scale food deliveries to the pantry – to the farm which is turned into composting material. In early May, when dropping off cardboard, Abe’s Acres provided 200 tomato plant seedlings for JFCS to share with pantry clients.
Taryn Krietzman, RDN, JFCS Pantry Coordinator created easy to follow care instructions to provide along with the plant to pantry clients.
“Clients coming to our food pantry are food insecure and low-income. Growing one’s own produce is a simple way to get more food into the refrigerator and to save money,” says Krietzman.
Through an ongoing partnership with ONEProject, a Robbinsville-based organization, JFCS received a donation of 250 painted planters and cilantro seeds to provide our clients with additional resources.
“Food pantries are at the end of human-food production chain, making it difficult to acquire perishable foods such as fresh produce. By providing these resources directly to our clients, we can circumvent many of those challenges allow the client to have the freshest source of produce, right in their home,” added Krietzman.
If you have questions about donating from your personal or community garden, reach out to Taryn Krietzman at TarynK@jfcsonline.org. For those outside of the Mercer County region, individuals can utilize the pantry finder on AmpleHarvest.com to locate a local food pantry accepting donations from personal or community gardens.