Manlius Fresh produce donations, tallied as part of Fayetteville-Manlius’ Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR), rose dramatically in September thanks to the generosity of local gardeners and community garden initiatives. The total donated over the summer was 1,050 pounds. Launched by F-M Girl Scout Troop 10526, the F-M PAR project benefitted F-M Community Outreach and ran from June 2 through Sept. 16.
FM Community Outreach Director Linda Napier estimated that with PAR in place this year, the food pantry received 60 percent greater produce donations than in past summers.
“The PAR program really increased awareness of the food pantry and its needs, and our clients were delighted to receive the fresh produce,” she said. F-M Community Outreach provides food, clothing and financial assistance to those in need in Fayetteville and Manlius. It serves over 160 families and 4,000 to 5,000 meals per month.
F-M Girl Scout Troop 10526 consists of four ninth grade girls from Manlius and Cazenovia: Gillian Hall, Taylor Ketcham, Olivia Mulloy and Stephanie O’Malley. With this PAR project, the girls completed earning their Silver Award, the highest award a Cadette Girl Scout can earn. The troop worked since January developing the project for the F-M area. PAR is a national program started in 1995 by the Garden Writers Association that encourages gardeners to grow a little extra and donate the produce to local entities serving the homeless and hungry. The national goal is to get one million pounds of produce donated annually through locally-organized efforts like F-M’s.
Substantial donations were received from two local hunger initiatives on the final weekend of the F-M PAR effort – Matthew 25 Farm in Tully and a community garden in Kirkville – which together contributed 320 pounds of vegetables. One local church’s youth helped glean much of the produce donated from Matthew 25 Farm, dropping it at the food pantry on their way home.