Up to 40% of food goes to waste in the U.S. nearly every year.
That’s nearly HALF of all food going right into the trash can.
And yet, more than 16% of Middle Tennessee residents face food insecurity.
Nationwide, 15 million households are estimated to be food insecure.
If so much of our food is getting wasted, why are so many of our neighbors going without proper meals and nutrition?
Sustainable living is also about sustainable giving! Sharing surplus food helps both our neighbors and our planet—we give a meal to those in need while also reducing waste.
We’ve rounded up a list of organizations in the middle Tennessee area that will accept excess food—whether from your garden or your pantry!
If you’re not local to Middle Tennessee, we invite you to take a look at these helpful tools to find food donation centers near you:
- Feeding America: Find your local food bank
- Foodpantries.org: Search for local food pantries, soup kitchens, and more
NON-PERISHABLE PANTRY ITEMS:
Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee
If you have extra nonperishable food items that are not expired, the Second Harvest Food Bank will accept them! You can donate the food items in the convenient donation barrels in front of your local Kroger store or by bringing the items to their distribution center: 331 Great Circle Road, Nashville, TN 37228.
SURPLUS GARDEN & FARM PRODUCE:
Society of St. Andrew
The Society of St. Andrew offers a creative solution to curtailing food waste: the nonprofit uses volunteers to glean fields of produce, which are then donated to partner agencies that distribute these to those in need.
The gleaning process works like this:
Trained gleaning supervisors oversee the volunteers, guiding them on where, what, and how to pick, based on the grower’s instructions. You don’t have to be there while they glean, either, and they make sure to clean up when they leave!
You don’t have to be a mega-farm to participate, either. The St. Andrew Society insists that any size donation is helpful!
In fact, at Stoney Creek Farm we work with the Society of St. Andrew to donate our extra produce from our U-Pick Garden so the veggies don’t go to waste!
If you’re local to middle Tennessee and would like to learn more about partnering with them to glean your excess produce, you can learn more here.
If you don’t have your own garden or crops, you can still get involved by volunteering as a gleaner!
Even if you’re not in Tennessee, the Society of St. Andrew has regional offices all over the Southeast & Ohio!
The Nashville Food Project
The Nashville Food Project works to alleviate food scarcity through their growing, cooking, and distributing programs.
The nonprofit grows organic food, which they then use to create delicious, healthy meals to distribute to those in need; more than 5,000 of these made-from-scratch meals go out to communities all across the greater Nashville area each week through their Meal Distribution Partners.
The Nashville Food Project is a partner agency to the Society of St. Andrew, accepting their wholesome gleaned produce.
The nonprofit also accepts produce donated directly to the agency! Learn more about becoming a farm partner to the Nashville Food Project here.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee
The Second Harvest Food Bank also supports local agriculture through its Farm to Families program.
Part of this initiative is the Plant A Row for the Hungry program—a “people-helping-people program that encourages gardeners to grow a little extra and donate the produce.”
This is a great program for home gardeners with small plots who still want to give to those in need!
One Gen Away
One Gen Away is a nonprofit in Franklin, TN that partners with local groceries and restaurants to distribute food to families across Middle Tennessee.
We’ve worked with them before in donating our excess produce from the U-Pick Gardens. Though their website doesn’t include information about donating produce, we do recommend that you reach out to them if you have additional produce or nonperishable items to donate!
OTHER WAYS TO HELP END HUNGER:
Second Harvest Food Bank
Finally, you can help alleviate hunger simply through shopping habits you already have.
There are several retail, grocery, and restaurants partners that offer a percentage of each sale to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. You can see that list of partners here.
Alleviating hunger in our communities isn’t simply a problem for our government to figure out—it’s up to all of us to be a solution! You can be a part of that by making sustainable giving a priority in your life.
For further reading: If you’d like to read an excellent, in-depth review of food scarcity and proposed solutions in the Nashville area, check out this analysis from the Nashville Food Waste Initiative.