Plant A Row for the Hungry

Summer Newsletter: Back to School, Back to Food

Featuring a letter from Jill, big news in Durham, BackPack Buddies buzz, Plant-A-Row behind the scenes, HungerFreeNC look-back, volunteer spotlight & more!

Local Gardeners’ PARt in Ending Hunger

Calling all backyard, community, and school gardeners!  You can make a difference in the lives of your neighbors in need by Planting a Row for the Hungry. With daylight savings time starting this weekend, spring feels just around the corner, and that means it’s time to start planning and planting your garden! But as you’re dreaming of your summer squashes, tomatoes, beans, and corn, there’s something else you can dream of: helping feed those in need in your community with garden-fresh, healthy produce: yours.

What is Plant a Row for the Hungry?

Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) is a national program created by The Garden Writers Association that encourages garden communities and individuals to donate fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs to people in need. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is the PAR partner in the Triangle

How do I PARticipate?

No matter the size of your garden, you can make a difference.  Just 1 pound of your fresh produce supplements 4 meals. You can earmark a row in your garden to donate, or just commit to donate your excess (like in the summer when you’re overflowing with zucchini  and your family and friends are already sick of it! ). Sign up on our website (select Plant a Row for the Hungry member)!

There are a number of drop-off sites where you can bring your donated produce in Wake and Durham counties (now including Duke Gardens!). Find the list of places and times along with produce guidelines on our website here.

This Saturday, March 9th from 11am-4pm, our partner Logan’s Trading Company is holding a kick-off event for their 5th year as a Plant a Row drop-off site. Last year they collected over 20,000 lbs of fresh produce from generous local gardeners. You can help them surpass that and meet their new goal of 25,000 lbs! Plus, if you sign up at the event (which includes free gardening classes and activities for kids and the whole family), you’ll receive a Goodie Bag filled with coupons, freebies , and more to help you get your PAR garden started. There will even be drawings for a composter, locally made goodies, an apple tree, and a blueberry bush!

Earlier that day, if you’re heading to AHA’s Dig In event, look for our table to sign up there, too!

Who should PARticipate?

If you garden or are involved in a garden, YOU! We welcome donations from individuals, community gardens, and school gardens. Two of our largest PAR donor gardens include Highland Methodist United Church Victory Community Garden, which donated over 3500 lbs last year, and Hayes Barton United Methodist Church’s Mustard Seed Garden community garden.

Why Plant a Row?

We believe everyone has a right to fresh, healthy food. However, this right goes unrealized for far too many in our community. One in four children in North Carolina is at risk of hunger. Paradoxically, due to lack of access to and lack of enough income to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, people experiencing hunger and food insecurity are also the most likely to be overweight and obese, and also to suffer from chronic illness. North Carolina has some the highest rates of obesity and chronic disease in the US, and the most limited access to healthy, fresh foods. By Planting a Row, you help people experiencing hunger and food insecurity gain access to fresh, local, nutritious produce!

Great American Tobacco Duck Race 2012 in Downtown Durham

      You're invited... 

 Sunday, October 7, 2012 at Fox 50 Family Fest 1-5 pm

 on the banks of the Ol' Bull River at American Tobacco in Downtown Durham

Purchase your duck here:

All proceeds from this purchase go to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.

  • You can purchase one duck or as many as you want. Individual ducks are $10 each and Corporate ducks are $250. On the day of the event the ducks will be simultaneously released to race swiftly down the Ol' Bull River. More information and contest rules here.
  • Prizes include Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat Basketball Tickets, Duke Men’s Basketball Tickets, tickets to see a Broadway Show at the DPAC and more! There's even a prize for the "Best Decorated Duck!"

How to Claim Your Duck(s) after purchase: 

  • Option 1 - Bring your receipt to the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, 1001 Blair Dr., Raleigh, by Sept. 28th, M-F 9am - 5pm
  • Option 2 - Bring your receipt to the American Tobacco Caompus on the day of the event, Sun. Oct. 7th, 1pm - 3:30pm

What Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Does in Durham


Your duck purchase will help support Inter-Faith Food Shuttle's work to end hunger in Durham and throughout our service area including Durham, Wake, Orange, Chatham, Johnston, Edgecombe, and Nash counties. In Durham, we fight hunger through:

  • Food Recovery and Distribution & Mobile Markets: We distribute free fresh produce through our numerous partner agencies in Durham as well as our monthly Mobile Markets at West Durham Baptist Church and Iglesia El Buen Pastor.
  • Community Gardens: In the West End Neighborhood, IFFS works with and employs neighborhood youth to grow food. Our corporate community garden at BCBSNC grows food for IFFS's Plant a Row for the Hungry program, which is distributed to agencies in Durham that feed the hungry.
  • Nutrition Education: We teach nutrition through Food Matters healthy cooking demonstrations at our monthly Mobile Markets and through Cooking Matters classes at community organizations like the Durham Teen Center, Durham Housing Authority, and Bull City Fit at the Edison Johnson Recreational Center.
  • BackPack Buddies: We provide weekend meals for children in need at Eastway Elementary, Y.E. Smith Elementary, Glenn Elementary, C.C. Spaulding Elementary, Forestview Elementary, and the John Avery Boys & Girls Club.
  • In-School Pantries at Southern High School, Northern High School, Hillside New Technical High School, and Neal Middle School.


Thank you for your support, and see you at Family Fest!

Gardening for the Community at BCBSNC in Durham

An update from IFFS Garden Manager Kevin McDonough

On April 17th, the new Food Shuttle garden on the campus of BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina was born. 

BCBSNC is beginning a new initiative in partnership with North Carolina Recreation & Park Association (NCRPA) called Nourishing North Carolina, through which they will work with communities across the state to install or enhance a community garden in  all 100 North Carolina counties. They felt it was thus important to have a garden on their Durham campus as well, and felt it was a great way for BCBSNC employees to learn, as well as a great way to partner with IFFS to address food insecurity and healthy eating in the Triangle. All produce grown in the garden is donated to IFFS to distribute to programs and agencies feeding the hungry and increasing access to fresh fruits and veggies for those in need.  With the planting of tomatoes, peppers, buckwheat, basil, and squash, BCBS and IFFS staff began our new collaborative venture. Since those first tomato roots and buckwheat seeds touched soil, there has been much excitement and enjoyment at watching the garden grow and spending time together under the sun.


Along with the crops already listed, we have beets, swiss chard, sunflowers, parsley, radishes, spicy salad mix, and onions happily growing in the garden (with cucumbers, beans, okra, and sweet potatoes coming soon).  Many have been impressed with how quickly everything has grown (and that only 5 weeks later we have harvested 25 pounds of salad mix, radishes, and squash!).  Here’s hoping for continued abundance as we grow into the summer!

More than the production of fresh, healthy vegetables, we are making new relationships and connections in the garden.  Dozens of BCBS staff have already participated in the weekly workdays and many more have enjoyed looking at and walking among the plants. Several groups of employees have committed to adopting/sponsoring a raised bed in the garden, meaning that they agree to care for the space throughout the 2012 growing season. Some groups have also added personal touches to their garden beds - gnomes, bird houses, and other decorative pieces of flair. Individual volunteers who register to work in the garden on a one-time basis come and enjoy spending time there as their schedule permits as well.

Gardening is an easy and natural place to make these connections and enjoy time together with people you may have not met otherwise. It is also a place for learning!  In our workdays, we have talked about:

constructing a trellis for tomatoes
constructing a trellis for tomatoes
  • fertilizing the soil with worm compost tea
  • organic methods of disease and pest resistance
  • how to build your own garden bed
  • container planting
  • permaculture
  • soil amendments

Additionally, nutrition education staff from IFFS did a Food Matters cooking demonstration and shared recipes with us.  We also planted kiwis and a Japanese snowbell tree!  This is just the beginning, as we hope to expand on these topics and keep learning from one another. It is a joy to participate in this new garden and foster a stronger sense of community among IFFS, BCBSNC, and the greater Durham community.  The connection to the community comes when we deliver the food to other agencies in Durham, providing produce to local families in need.  The Food Shuttle already has strong partnerships with agencies that provide healthy food to those in need.  The garden at BCBSNC will serve to strengthen this effort that is already under way.

It is with much enthusiasm that we celebrate what the garden has already brought to the health of ourselves, our organizations, and our community, and with much excitement that we plant the next seeds!

Many thanks to all,

Kevin McDonough

Garden Manager

To learn more about how to donate produce from your community or backyard garden, visit our Plant a Row for the Hungry page.

YFTP Apprentices and PAR "Dig In!"

Kicking off the 2012 Spring Workshops for IFFS Nutrition, Farms, and Gardens,  on Saturday, March 10th, we took part in Wake Advocates for Health in Action (AHA)  “Dig In!” event for school, community, and backyard gardeners at Marbles Kids Museum.  There were two tracks for participants - one for those interested in starting a garden and one for those who already maintain a garden interested in taking it to the next level. The IFFS Young Farmer Training Apprentices (YFTP) also led their own workshop! The apprentices talked to the group about farming, gardening, and making your garden the right fit for you, whether you’re young and spry or not, what your interests are, and what will most engage you in the garden. They also asked participants to consider what they want out of their gardens both specifically and generally, what they're willing to put into it, and what the land they're working with can do. They talked about garden layout and organization and also shared some of their favorite plants!


The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Plant-a-Row for the Hungry program was there with an educational booth to tell folks all about how to become a member and donate their homegrown produce to their neighbors in need.

Growing to Give Back

by Sandie Zazzara Inmates at Johnston Correctional Institution are learning horticulture as part of their rehabilitation.  Taught by Johnston Community College horticulturist Phil Beaumont, they also learn what it means to give back.

JCI is one of the Food Shuttle's largest donors to Plant a Row for the Hungry, bringing in over 1,200 pounds this year.  Recently, Lindsay Perry, IFFS Local Produce Coordinator, caught up with Phil to ask him about the program and what it means for the community, both inside and outside the walls.

Realizing the importance of giving back is a part of the rehabilitation process, and being a part of something bigger than themselves.  "The idea of giving back to the community is really a hit with them. They’d much rather it go back to the community than to feed the unit", says Phil.

“I’d rather work and do something productive by being in here to help somebody else on the street," said inmate Michael Greene.

Learning basic skill sets in a variety of vocations, inmates are being challenged, and gaining a sense of confidence and pride in what they're doing.  With that confidence comes an air of peace and serenity in being surrounded by and working with plants.  "Being incarcerated is always there, but they’re not so mindful of it when they’re working in the garden; all that stuff fades away. It’s an oasis in many ways. A green oasis, and a mental health oasis," remarks Phil.

Flowers are planted around the grounds; herbs are used in anger management classes; inmates can enjoy a fresh tomato sandwich, something most of us take for granted.  They have something to care about while they’re being detained and their families can appreciate the work they’ve done.



Beyond inmates' contribution to hunger relief, this program has a broad social impact. Phil points to statistics that show that inmates who are successful in vocational training programs in prison are less likely to return to prison.

"We have to challenge them to see beyond the here and now," says Phil. "Every day we make choices, and hopefully we’re teaching them to make the right choices. So when they get out they make the right choices. That’s how we’re gonna impact society."

IFFS is so grateful for all the fresh healthy produce JCI helps to provide to communities in need. What a difference they are making in these communities. It's amazing what giving can do to the soul, and how it can transform a life.

A Big Green Thumbs Up for Plant a Row for the Hungry Members!

Big ups to all our Plant a Row for the Hungry members! The PAR pounds have started to flow, and we just reached the 2000 pound mark yesterday with a donation from Soap Stone United Methodist Church! Then today’s donations from Logan Trading Company shot us up to 2,437 pounds for the year! We’re thrilled that donations are coming in at about 1.4 times the rate of past years, and we’re forecasting that gardeners will donate 10,000 pounds of fresh, home grown produce this year! Many heartfelt thanks to those of you who have shared your abundance with Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and those we serve.

Want to help make Plant a Row even more successful? Spread the word! Tell your friends, neighbors, postman, hair dresser! The more people PAR-ticipate, the more fresh produce we can provide to people in need!