F-M Girl Scout Troop 10526 wrapped up its Silver Award project Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) in September. The local PAR effort helped bring in over a half-ton of fresh produce donations to FM Community Outreach over the summer. Pictured (l –r) are troop leader Pam O’Malley, troop members Stephanie O’Malley, Taylor Ketcham, Gillian Hall, Olivia Mulloy, and F-M Community Outreach Director Linda Napier
continued “We were glad to help harvest and excited to have some of it come back to our local food pantry. It has been great to have our church and Girl Scout efforts coordinated,” said Stephanie O’Malley, a member of Troop 10526 and United Church of Fayetteville, adding, “Our church also made refrigerator space where the congregation could drop off PAR donations each Sunday. The produce was then transported along with non-perishables to the food pantry on Monday mornings. It’s a great idea for churches that regularly drop off non-perishables at the food pantry.”
Matthew 25 Farm is a non-profit farm started in 2009 that grows and distributes fresh produce to food pantries and people in need. It uses volunteers to help grow and harvest the farm. The Kirkville-area community garden, also grown and harvested by a group of volunteers to help feed the hungry, provided donations to F-M’s food pantry through its connection with another F-M church.
“The F-M area churches have been really supportive of our PAR project by helping us spread the word and through their members donating produce,” said Stephanie O’Malley.
Much store-bought produce was donated earlier in the season before gardens were harvestable, as well as from two collections the troop held in August at Tops in Manlius and Fayetteville. At these collections, customers donated 111 pounds of produce and $70 in cash which was used to buy more fresh produce for the food pantry. Troop 10526 modified the national PAR effort locally into a push for both garden and store-bought produce in hopes of increasing donations and further highlighting the need for fresh produce at food pantries.
“Store-bought produce can be donated year-round, and perhaps scouts or other groups looking for service projects can hold produce collections at local grocery stores throughout the year for our food pantry and others,” suggested Pam O’Malley.