Goehring sets goals for this year’s Hunger Free ND Garden Program | TSLN.com

Goehring sets goals for this year’s Hunger Free ND Garden Program

At a sweet corn plot in the process of being harvested and donated to feed the hungry, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring asked gardeners across the state to donate extra fruits and vegetables from their harvest this year to help meet the needs of hungry North Dakotans.

"One in nine of our fellow citizens seeks food assistance from charitable feeding programs every year," Goehring said. "We are asking individuals and groups to join in the 2016 Hunger Free ND Garden Program to donate at least a million servings of fresh produce to North Dakota food pantries, shelters and charitable feeding organizations."

"Sadly in a state that produces so much food, hunger is very much a problem here – the Great Plains Food Bank served 93,490 individuals in 2015, up 6.6 percent over the previous year," Goehring said. "Almost 36 percent of those needing help are children and 11 percent are seniors."

Also addressing the news conference was Marcia Paulson, chief development officer of the Great Plains Food Bank.

"The Hunger Free North Dakota Garden Program has not only significantly increased the amount of food we have been able to provide for those in our state struggling with hunger, but it has also played a key role in our goal to provide more fresh and healthy food," said Paulson. "We regularly hear how much having access to these fruits and vegetables is appreciated by the more than 93,000 children, families and seniors who look to us for nutrition assistance."

Goehring said information about the Hunger Free ND Garden Program, including drop-off points for garden-grown produce is available on the North Dakota Department of Agriculture website, http://www.nd.gov/ndda.

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The Hunger Free ND Garden Program was started in 2010 through the local foods initiative of the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) in partnership with the Great Plains Food Bank. The statewide program encourages home gardeners and commercial growers to plant extra produce each year for donation to charitable organizations across the state. Since its inception, the program has recorded over 1.4 million pounds of fresh produce donations.

Sweet corn plot partners include: Lincoln-Oakes Nurseries, the Great Plains Food Bank, Missouri Valley Ag, 4-H and North Dakota FFA.

Additional sponsors helping make the harvest event possible are: Spiffy Biffs, Cloverdale, Morton County 4-H, Royse's Twin City Produce, United Printing, USDA-ARS-PA Northern Great Plains Research Lab, Sara Lee/Bimbo Bakeries, Bismarck Parks & Rec, Farm Credit Services of Mandan and Northern Plains Potato Growers Association.

Other partners in the program include: NDSU Extension Service, NDSU Master Gardeners, North Dakota FFA, Dakota College at Bottineau ~ Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture, Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society, The North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association, Healthy North Dakota, Creating a Hunger Free ND Coalition and Pride of Dakota.

–North Dakota Department of Agriculture