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Waste Not: Donate your excess garden vegetables to local food shelter

Today I want to share a project started by Stephanie Langloise, a Rhode Island Girl Scout working on earning her Girl Scout Gold Award. Her mission: Raise awareness about the waste of garden fruits and vegetables, find new ways to prepare and eat abundant produce and distribute the excess to those  in need. Her story is a call to action for all of us. Read on and see how you can help. -Anisa

The idea for the Waste Not project came from a project book I had to read as a precursor for starting my Gold Award. The project book, Sow What explained many of the problems the world faces surrounding the growth and consumption of food. Some topics included monocultures and the idea of “food miles” and its connection with our carbon footprint. My other inspiration was my own experience of not knowing what to do with so many vegetables from our garden in the summer and early fall months. My family has planted a garden for several years now and we always have extra vegetables that we try to give to extended family members. The problem was they also had gardens and had their own excess of vegetables. We had the same problem with most of our neighbors. The result was throwing out bags of perfectly good vegetables or letting them rot in the garden.

While doing my Sow What project book, I learned that food pantries collect vegetables. Previously I had been under the impression that they only collected non-perishable food items. Apparently my family had thought the same thing. When I realized this, I wondered how many other people thought pantries only collected canned or non-perishable food. The annual waste of so many vegetables while other people in the same state are going hungry is a shame and I knew I wanted to dedicate my Gold Award Project to this cause.

Waste Not is a project designed to educate people about how not to waste their garden produce. There are three main parts to my project. The first is to compare the amount of food wasted in the United States to the amount of starving people in America and specifically, Rhode Island. The second is to provide recipes to people with garden vegetables. It’s easy to tell people not to waste food but the problem is not that they purposely waste it, but that they have no use for it because gardens typically produce more of one type of vegetable than one family can eat. What we have left is a lot of vegetables of the same type and a lack of variety in the recipes we use to cook all these vegetables. In the recipes I’ve picked to display, I tried to pick a variety of recipes for children and adults that are simple and quick to make. The third part of my project is to raise awareness about the fact that food pantries DO collect fresh vegetables and they are very popular with the people who receive the donations from the pantries. It would be really worth your time to find a pantry closest to you and make it a point to donate whatever is left over from your gardens.

For the duration of my project (July through September) I will have drop- off points in various public areas. Hopefully, these locations will be somewhere near where you visit regularly and would be a convenient place to drop off excess fruits and vegetables.

Project begins July 25 and ends September 29, 2011.

Drop-off Times:

  • Monday-Tuesday until 2:00pm on Tuesday
  • Wednesday-Thursday until 2:00pm on Thursday

*on days such as holidays that the drop-off locations are closed, please note that collections will be closed also.

Drop-off Locations:

  • Bayside YMCA— 70 West St. Barrington, RI
  • Roger Free Library- 525 Hope Street, Bristol RI
  • Riverside Library- 100 Bullocks Point Avenue, Riverside RI
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