National Vision Administrators (NVA), a Clifton, New Jersey-based vision benefits administrator, is partnering with nonprofit AmpleHarvest.org to help home gardeners donate their surplus produce to feed the hungry throughout the state. According to The Feeding America’s 2012 Food Insecurity Report, in New Jersey, the food insecurity rate is at 13 percent, with 1,141,890 people being “food insecure.” Food insecurity refers to a condition where a lack of access to safe and nutritious food prevents people from living healthy and active lives. The numbers have grown annually as indicated in The Feeding America 2014 study, which noted that 62 percent of feeding programs in New Jersey saw an increase in demand over the previous year.
NVA President David Karlin, a native of the Village of Montebello in Rockland County, is now serving as AmpleHarvest.org’s board president and NVA has donated $10,000 to fund the creation of the first national database of food pantries that enables home gardeners to donate excess vegetables and fruits. As a nonprofit, AmpleHarvest.org created the first ever national registry/database of food pantries to expedite donations from home and community gardeners. NVA is supporting the effort and encouraging other companies to do the same.
According to the Natural Resource Defense Council 2017 report, 50 percent of our produce is never consumed. Food waste comes from a variety of sources including produce that is discarded by millions of backyard gardeners, estimated to be more than 11 billion pounds based on an analysis by Cisco Systems. Food is wasted because gardeners harvest more than they can use. This excess could feed 28 million people in the U.S. annually. Moreover, food pantries nationwide desperately need fresh food. Each year, they feed 50 million people.
Established in 2009, AmpleHarvest.org helps 42 million home and community gardeners end food waste and hunger by educating and making it easy for them to donate their excess garden produce to one of more than 8,000 nearby food pantries. According to AmpleHarvest.org Founder and Executive Director Gary Oppenheimer, “Our research shows that four out of five gardeners are willing and able to donate produce to a local food pantry but simply don’t know how. Not only does AmpleHarvest.org give home gardeners the information they need to do this, but our new database, which NVA is helping us build, will accelerate these much-needed donations.”
According Karlin, “Corporate sponsorships are vital to completing our state and national databases, which will make donating fresh food that would otherwise go to waste much easier. At its core, AmpleHarvest.org is the community in action. It is individuals across our nation sharing their surpluses to help feed their neighbors in need.”
“NVA sees the importance in feeding our neighbors from a health perspective. We know a diet filled with fruits and vegetables is good for our overall health, but researchers have found it can benefit your eyes too. Some fruits and vegetables contain carotenoid compounds such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, and vitamins C and E which are all good for your eyes.”