The Foodshed Alliance’s LocalShare program was recognized for its work at the intersection of hunger and food waste with awards from Project Self-Sufficiency and Trinity Church of Hackettstown.

Over the past three years LocalShare has brought together farmers, food pantries, soup kitchens, religious organizations, community gardens, public sector aid organizations, and enthusiastic volunteers to work toward equal distribution of the food grown in our own communities. In 2014, LocalShare gleaned over 10,000 pounds of produce using volunteers alone. Demand for their services skyrocketed, and the group is building on this success in 2015 to improve the project’s infrastructure, become more efficient, extend their reach even further, strengthen the volunteer base they rely on, and in turn serve more people.

And they could use the help, since there’s real work that needs doing. An astonishing 40 percent of the food in the United States is wasted—and yet twenty percent of American households with children are food insecure. LocalShare is building a bridge to span those extremes. By gleaning extra produce, they rescue what cannot be sold at market, then deliver it to people in need. By involving people from all sectors of our community, they heighten awareness of socioeconomic issues as well as the importance of supporting and preserving local farms.

Getting valuable help and feedback from the communities they work in is essential to LocalShare’s success, and also gratifying. In January, Project Self-Sufficiency in Newton honored the project with a Mosaic Award along with other community partners that help support the acclaimed center for low-income families. And then in February, LocalShare was among the organizations recognized by Trinity Church in Hackettstown during their Pantry Partner Day. The Lord’s Pantry at Trinity is the second largest food distribution program in Warren County and a close affiliate of LocalShare.

LocalShare’s mission is to connect people in need to locally grown, natural foods. By involving the volunteer efforts of everyone in our community, we glean foods from local fields, turning what farmers could not harvest into nutrition for our neighbors who need it most. The program encompasses growing healthy organic food, rescuing and using what cannot be sold at market, getting it to people in need, teaching them how to cook and preserve it, and creating community through “pay-what-you-can” community dinners. LocalShare is a project of the Foodshed Alliance, a grassroots, 501(c)(3) non-profit devoted to promoting locally grown food and farming. The Foodshed Alliance works with farmers, community members, and agricultural leaders to develop projects that foster the growth of a sustainable local food system.

LocalShare is actively recruiting individuals and teams from church and school groups, corporate community service programs, Boy and Girl Scouts, and others to help with gleaning and distribution throughout northwest New Jersey (primarily Morris, Warren, and Sussex counties, but growing quickly!) during the 2015 harvest season. Contact them at (908) 362-7967, info@localsharenj.org, or on Facebook to help hungry neighbors near you.