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Friday, February 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Food banks welcome gardeners’ surplus produce

The hot weather is ripening local gardens; soon it’ll be time to figure out what to do with all those extra zucchini. And tomatoes. And potatoes.

For the past three years, many gardeners have turned to a local branch of the national Plant A Row For the Hungry program. Second Harvest Food Bank no longer has AmeriCorps volunteers to administer the Plant A Row program, which has led some gardeners to mistakenly believe they can no longer donate homegrown vegetables to Second Harvest Food Bank.

“They can always give vegetables to Second Harvest,” said Jandyl Doak, the food bank’s member services coordinator. “We can’t get the AmeriCorps volunteers anymore, but we still keep track of the pounds of fruits and vegetables donated.”

Doak said that any donated vegetables go out the door as quickly as possible.

“We welcome donations of fresh fruits and vegetables like we always did,” Doak said. “The only thing we are no longer doing is the reporting to Plant A Row.”

Other organizations like the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant, 1408 N. Washington St., and many community centers also accept donations of homegrown fruits and vegetables.

Smaller neighborhood food banks and food pantries are also eager recipients.

The Northeast Food Pantry (Northwest Connect), 4520 N. Crestline St., accepts clean homegrown vegetables on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday between 9-11 a.m.

“We served 2,486 Hillyard families last year,” wrote Scott Read, executive director, in an email.

Keeping produce fresh is tricky for some smaller organizations – especially when the temperature nears 100 degrees – but Read said the Inland Northwest Community Foundation just gave his organization a grant for a walk-in cooler.

“That will allow for better quality and reduced spoilage,” Read said.

Spokane Valley Partners, 10814 E. Broadway Ave., has a community garden and a food bank, and it also accepts donations of fruits and vegetables.

Second Harvest provides a full list of the food banks and pantries in its network at www.2-harvest.org – click on “get help.”

Doak said it may be easier for gardeners to take vegetables to a neighborhood food pantry or meal site than to take them to Second Harvest.

“Most of our sites will take vegetables and fruits,” Doak said, “and they may make for a quicker turnaround.”

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