Catching Up With: AmpleHarvest.org’s Gary Oppenheimer

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Gary OppenheimerAs TEDxManhattan approaches, we are checking in with past speakers to get an update on their work, and to see what excites them about TEDxManhattan 2013.  Below, Gary Oppenheimer, Executive Director and founder of AmpleHarvest.org, brings us up to date.  Gary spoke at TEDxManhattan 2012 about AmpleHarvest.org, which connects 40+ million Americans with excess food in their garden and local food pantries.

AmpleHarvest.org has continued to increase its footprint across America – now enabling nearly 6,000 food pantries across all 50 states to be “visible” to growers in the community who have excess food to donate.  Our work has been supported by the White House… including First Lady Michelle Obama speaking about it as well as highlighting it in her book “American Grown.”  I was invited by the House Hunger Caucus to present AmpleHarvest.org to the House of Representatives.   AmpleHarvest.org is being replicated with our assistance in other countries globally, each taking the model and making it unique to their own food bank network as well as their individual cultural and legal systems.  Lastly, I received the Elfenworks “In Harmony With Hope” award in September for creating AmpleHarvest.org.

As for who impresses me the most [among this year’s speakers],  Anna Lappé, because we both speak from the intersection of hunger and the environment…. communicating that the health of the people and the health of the planet are intertwined.  My argument is that freely available but wasted fresh food deprives people of the nutrition needed to be healthy while at the same time burdening the planet with waste and methane…. harming the planet and ultimately further impacting the people on it.

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