Grow Veggies This Summer, Help Local Families in Need

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Mark your calendars. On June 16, Plant A Row Lehigh Valley (PARLV) will begin their fourth season of helping food-insecure families and individuals in Lehigh and Northampton counties.

Over the past three summers, PARLV, a grassroots organization begun by Hellertown resident Joseph Marlin has been supplying fresh fruits and vegetables to the hungry in both counties. Through the generous donations of local gardeners, PARLV has supplied more than seven tons of fresh produce to food insecure families and individuals in the Lehigh Valley.

What is a food-insecure family or individual? The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines food insecurity as having uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the inability to acquire foods in socially acceptable ways.

Food access is not a given for every resident of the Lehigh Valley. Almost 75,000 people–one in 10–are relying on monthly visits to food banks. The numbers are even worse when you look at children. Data from Feeding America, a domestic hunger relief organization, shows that one in six children in the U.S. is food-insecure. The Greater Lehigh Valley is above average in food insecurity for children, with one in four considered insecure, according to The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley (The Brown and White, Sept. 18, 2019).

Plant a Row Lehigh Valley seeks to aid these food-insecure individuals and families by asking home gardeners to designate one row in their gardens for donating. Home gardeners can also donate overflow produce from their gardens. If you don’t have a garden, you can still help by buying extra produce when you go to the grocery store and dropping it off at one of the PARLV collection sites.

PARLV is also in need of substitute drivers for all of their collection sites.

There are currently approximately 326 backyard gardeners registered to participate this summer and 19 collection sites conveniently located throughout the Lehigh Valley. Each collection site has one or more designated recipients.

Volunteer drivers will begin picking up the produce from the sites and delivering it to designated food pantries, soup kitchens and food banks across the Lehigh Valley June 16.

Visit the PARLV website to learn more, register your garden, find a donation site near you, become a volunteer driver, or join their mailing list to keep up with the latest news.

Note: The information in this story is from a news release from Plant A Row Lehigh Valley.

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