York County farmers and backyard gardeners often run into a good problem: too much produce.
A new program aims to put those extra fruits and veggies to good use.
The York County Food Alliance on Monday launched Harvest Share, a produce-sharing program aimed at providing fresh produce to local families in need.
Harvest Share allows farmers, growers and consumers to drop off their excess produce at designated sites, which then donate it to local food pantries.
Convenience: It's not unusual for farmers to donate their extra bounty, said Joe Anne Ward-Cottrell, chairwoman of the alliance's Healthy Food Access Working Group, which coordinated the Harvest Share effort.
"What we're seeing is, York County farmers are very generous," she said.
The program aims to "ramp up" those donation efforts, make them more convenient and invite the public to participate — even if they simply buy food from a market and donate it, Ward-Cottrell said.
Seven food pantries are participating in the effort: York City's Northeast Neighborhood Association, St. Matthew Food Pantry, Charlotte's Pantry, Catholic Harvest Food Pantry, New Covenant Community Church, Harvest of Hope Food Pantry in West Manchester Township and Southern Community Services in Shrewsbury.
"Food pantries could really benefit from fresh fruits and vegetables," Ward-Cottrell said.
Health impact: The 2012 Community Health Needs Assessment for York and Adams Counties shows a large number of adults aren't eating enough vegetables.
Only 3 percent of adult respondents reported eating three servings a day, and people living in poverty are even less likely to eat as many servings, the report shows.
Families that rely on food stamps and have transportation issues might only get to the grocery store once a month, Ward-Cottrell said. Harvest Share will allow residents to get their nutritious perishables from local food pantries, she said.
"Being able to have that access will help them meet nutritional needs. ... And the good thing about fresh, local (produce) is that it tastes great," she said.
Through this program, excess produce goes toward a good cause instead of being wasted, Ward-Cottrell said.
The program lasts through October and will then be evaluated for its effectiveness to see what happens next growing season, she said.
How to donate
Through October, farmers, consumers and backyard gardeners may donate their excess produce at the following Harvest Share drop-off sites:
--Central Market community stand, 34 W. Philadelphia St. in York City: Open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
--Flinchbaugh's Orchard & Farm Market, 110 Ducktown Road in Hellam Township: Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
--Horn Farm Center, 4945 Horn Road in Hellam Township: Open 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
--Shrewsbury Township Farmers' Market, East Forrest Avenue and Mount Airy Road in Shrewsbury: Open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on second and fourth Saturdays.
--Siwik Produce Farm, 13638 Lebanon Church Road in North Hopewell Township: Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Seven local food pantries have joined the program and will pick up produce from these sites for distribution.
If the drop-off sites are not convenient, residents can still donate their produce by entering their ZIP code at www.AmpleHarvest.org and locating a local pantry that accepts fresh produce.