Story Spotlight: Grow & Give Donation Program

A colorful selection of beans from one of Danielle’s donations to City Rescue Mission of Lansing.

In 2022, approximately one million pounds of fresh produce were grown across Greater Lansing Food Bank’s (GLFB) Garden Project network of nearly 90 community gardens, as well as the more than 500 home gardens supported by Garden Project resources and educational programming. For many gardeners, this often means more produce than their family can consume alone — especially during harvest season.

GLFB works with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), retail partners and other community partners to ensure our neighbors have access to as much fresh produce as possible, in addition to shelf-stable pantry staples like canned goods, dry beans and rice. Garden Project provides another avenue for neighbors to access fresh produce while empowering gardeners to grow their own food and choose what they want to cultivate.

Danielle Dayrell, a mid-Michigan home gardener, sees the excess bounty of harvest season as an opportunity to share fresh, colorful produce — including items that may be less common for neighbors to find when visiting a food pantry — with her community.

“Plenty of folks donate [shelf-stable] pantry items, but fresh food is not always something people get,” she said. “I want to share rare and fresh food for everyone to enjoy — it’s full of wonderful nutrients that all people deserve.”

According to Feeding America, 79 percent of people experiencing food insecurity in America must frequently choose high-calorie, low-nutrient foods due to budget constraints. While 23 percent of food insecure people in America grow food in a garden to offset the high grocery costs often associated with fresh produce, Garden Project’s Grow & Give donation program allows neighbors like Danielle to share their extra produce so all neighbors in GLFB’s seven-county service area — regardless of gardening ability — can enjoy the benefits of fresh food.

“Gardening is my peace and I love to share my passion with others,” said Danielle.

Danielle Dayrell shares her home-grown produce with local Grow & Give sites so everyone can enjoy fresh, colorful food.

In addition to vegetables and fruits, hot meal sites like community kitchens, churches and the Tri-County Commission on Aging’s senior dining sites and Meals on Wheels also gladly accept fresh herbs like mint, oregano, sage, basil, dill and chives. A full list of some of the most popular and easy to store produce varieties can be found on GLFB’s website.

“All home gardeners and farmers should donate so others can eat healthy and enjoy organically grown heirloom foods,” said Danielle. “It will make your heart happy when you know others get to enjoy what you grow.”

GLFB’s Garden Project is one of the oldest community garden programs in the United States. In addition to Grow & Give, Garden Project helps improve access to fresh, healthy food for all mid-Michigan neighbors through land access, how-to education, free seeds and plants, tool lending, networking and more.

Hunger Action Month is the perfect time to consider donating your extra home produce, like Danielle, so all mid-Michigan neighbors can experience the full effect of a full stomach of nutritious, fresh food. To find a pantry near you currently accepting fresh produce donations, visit GLFB’s website.

Hunger Action Month is an annual nationwide month of action, hosted by the Feeding America network, to spread awareness and join the movement to end hunger.