On Nov. 13, Gary Oppenheimer will be speaking at the Grand Theatre on the South City Campus about his AmpleHarvest.org Campaign to enable home gardeners to take excess grown food to local food pantries.
“This is an opportunity even for people who don’t have money to give back to their community,” says Oppenheimer. “I’m sensitive to the fact that most students don’t have money to give.”
In 2009, Oppenheimer created AmpleHarvest.org, as a response to all the wasted food from the local community gardens in his area. Oppenheimer works closely with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Initiative, which aims to improve fresh food access at thousands of food pantries across the nation. He is a CNN Hero, has given a speech for TED, and he is a 2013 Points of Light honoree.
“I hate waste,” said Oppenheimer, “I’ve always hated waste, and I’ve seen a lot of waste in our food system. Forty percent of the food in America is not consumed, and that’s a lowballed number. What AmpleHarvest.org does is take that the extra food that people grow and puts it in local food pantry. To me it was a painfully obvious solution,” says Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer wants to spread awareness of food waste and the AmpleHarvest.org movement.
“I am delighted to come to Salt Lake Community College,” says Oppenheimer. “It provides a very impactful opportunity for AmpleHarvest.org.”
Within 150 days of AmpleHarvest.org’s founding, 1000 food pantries signed up with the program. At this point, the program is closing in on 7000.
“This movement is about 40 million growers being heroes in their communities,” says Oppenheimer. “People think they are powerless. You look at leaders or pop culture icons and think because they are rich they can accomplish things, and I can’t. That’s incomplete though. Given the opportunity, anybody can do amazing things. Someone who grows food and gives it away to a food pantry is vitally important to their community. You help fight against type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. You’ve made a wholesale change in a family that money can’t buy and is permanent. Anybody can do it. You’re not feeding people; you’re getting people fed.”
The event, being put on by the SLCC Fine Arts and Lectures Fee Committee and the Tanner Forum On Social Ethics, will take place Wednesday, Nov. 13 at the Grand Theatre of the South City Campus. It is open to the public and will take place from Noon to 1 p.m.
“I want to see the room packed,” says Oppenheimer. “Each person who gets it will be able to spread the message. They become part of the process that makes AmpleHarvest.org grow. It’s a 21st century solution to a big problem.”