National Foodcycle Week is an awareness program that encourages home gardeners and orchard owners to plant a row for the hungry, or dedicate space in their garden or orchard for growing fresh produce for local food banks. Our spring 2016 event will span the dates of April 20-26 and will focus on garden planning, planting, and hosting awareness events. We also encourage spring harvesters—lambs, anyone?—to donate to their local shelters.
The fall event, held on October 20-26 every year, has a harvest theme.
We’ll be inviting and thanking participants on our new Facebook group page. Come join our group discussion and tell us how you plan to donate this year!
There are several ways that you can participate.
- commit to “grow a row” for the hungry
- commit a berry patch, tree or orchard
- offer to print and distribute awareness flyers
- host an awareness event in your town or neighborhood
Find out how to host an event.
Please let us know how you plan to support hunger outreach this spring!
To initially search for hunger non-profits in your area, try using search terms like food bank, homeless shelter, women’s shelter, soup kitchen, and table ministry. Keep in mind that large food banks probably receive truckloads of fresh produce from large distributors like Feeding America. But smaller non-profits like shelters and table ministries often have a huge need for fresh produce, eggs and meat!
You can call or email, but non-profits are by their very nature, busy folks. They’re out there in the world actually doing good works–which means it can be very hard to speak to a decision maker by phone. Also, National Foodcycle Week is a new concept, and who likes to have a new idea plopped in their lap and then asked for a yes/no answer?
For those reasons, when communicating with non-profits, I find it faster, easier, and more organized to send an email explaining National Foodcycle Week, and listing the questions that will help us feature them and bring in the donations they really want or need.
Tip: If you cc: yourself on every email and then store the copies in a folder, you’ll have a record of everyone you contacted.
Here’s a template letter that you can use to send to food banks, pantries, churches, kitchens and shelters. Feel free to introduce yourself in the letter and customize it however you like.
Would you like to host a Foodcycle Week or Event in your home town? It’s really very easy!
Five Steps to Start Your Own Foodcycle Week
- Contact us and we’ll supply you with a four-color flyer that you can customize to include the name(s) of the non-profit(s) that you’d like to support.
- Prepare a list of your local food banks, soup kitchens and shelters. Search online and just cut-and-paste the search engine results into a word processing document.
- Call through the list and ask each non-profit the questions listed below.
- Now just customize the flyer to include the name, address, phone number and website of each non-profit. Share the flyer with your friends, neighbors, school parents, coworkers, and church.
- Share your plans on Facebook, Twitter and other social media!
Questions to Ask
- Will you take donations of fresh produce from gardeners?
- What is your level of need–occasional or urgent?
- Do you have special needs at certain times of the year, like holidays?
- Is there any particular type of vegetable or fruit you need?
- Are there certain days and times that you are open to receive produce?
- Would you like me to email you a flyer to share with your mailing list?
- Who am I speaking with, and what’s your position?
Want to Go Big?
That’s really all there is to it, but if you want to really go big, here are some other ideas:
- Ask vendors at your local farmer’s market to hand out printed flyers
- Contact local garden clubs and ask them to email your flyer to their members (you can find local garden clubs on Facebook)
- Ask your local garden centers and home supply stores to hand out printed flyers and share your flyer in their customer newsletters
- Create a press release or write an article and send it to your local newspapers, radio stations and television anchors. If you don’t know how, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you a custom press release for free.
And please remember to take LOTS of photos! Share them on social media and send them to me. I’ll share them here on my blog and my social media!