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Home gardeners—especially those with a prolific zucchini plant or two—are familiar with producing more than they can possibly eat. There are certainly plenty of crafty ways to use up the surplus harvest by getting creative in the kitchen, but now there’s a better option. The Fresh Food Connect (FFC) app provides a streamlined way to donate the excess produce to Denver community members who need it most.
Denver Urban Gardens, Groundwork Denver, and Denver Food Rescue (DFR) came together to develop the program, which launched in July. The goal, as Denver Food Rescue’s executive director Turner Wyatt puts it, is to “unlock a previously untapped resource of food in a cost-effective method.”
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Here’s how it works: Simply head to freshfoodconnect.org to sign up and see if the service is available in your zip code. (The actual app for FFC is still in development, but it should drop soon.) Enter some basic info about your donation and then set it out on your porch. (Even miniscule donations, such as a cucumber or two, are eligible for pick up.) Once a week, one of the Denver Food Rescue’s volunteers, who are comprised of mostly low-income youth, will pick up the donation via bicycle.
From there, the food is brought to one of DFR’s 12 resident-driven food pop-up pantries scattered across the city, where community members can stock up on produce for free. As part of the city of Denver’s healthy corner store initiative, the DFR is also experimenting with selling the fresh produce at corner stores in food deserts, where healthy nourishment can be difficult to come by. Eventually, the DFR is even considering implementing a system in which it pays low-income residents for their produce donations as a form of income for them. “It’s all sort of a learning experiment right now,” Wyatt says.
Although the pickup service is currently only available in zip code 80205, that shouldn’t deter you from signing up. The more interest that the FFC program generates, the quicker it will be able to expand its geographic reach. And that’s a good thing as we fight the battle to make fresh, healthy food less of a luxury item and more widely available to all—and to reduce the massive amount of perfectly edible food that ends up in landfills every day.