What happens to the food no one buys at the grocery store? The lopsided apples or the day-old breads? The answer is not a fun one. Most of the time, it goes straight to the trash.

Meanwhile, in 2012, 14% of Washington County Residents faced food insecurity.

Washington County Harvest of Hope strives to connect wholesome food with those who need it the most. This faith-based, non-profit organization began in 2005 with volunteers going out in their own vehicles to collect food from donor businesses like Kroger, Giant Eagle, Broughton’s Foods, and Food 4 Less. We now have our own refrigerated truck and well over fifty volunteers who deliver food to dozens of food pantries, free community meals, and government agencies that serve those in need in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Wherever someone rises up to address the growing issue of hunger and food insecurity in Washington County, Harvest of Hope tries to be there. And that’s what I love about working with this organization. As Harvest of Hope’s administrative assistant and chef-in-residence, I’ve met people taking grass-roots action to lift up lives: running pantries on shoestring budgets, cooking meals available to anyone who needs a welcoming table, or growing produce and delivering to shut-ins.

This series of articles will shine a light on the important work these volunteers do. We’re starting with Harvest of Hope itself, because it acts as a conduit for far-flung agencies and non-profits, both large and small.

Every year, Americans throw away an estimated 90 billion pounds of food. Meanwhile, those facing hunger and food insecurity is on the rise.

So when Harvest of Hope collects damaged or blemished but otherwise wholesome and nutritious food from local stores and farms, it’s saved from the landfill and delivered to those who need it most.

But we can’t do it without money. Harvest of Hope runs lean and mean. We have no formal office. I’m the only paid employee. Our dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers keep us going, but we need to cover the gas and maintenance for the truck and for the Community Gardens.

Our fundraisers are vital. Our biggest one is coming up: the Harvest of Hope Yard Sale & Bake Sale. It’s a fun time—hello, bake sale?!—and contributing couldn’t be easier.

  • Donate gently used clothing, furniture, books, or household goods to sell. Got a lot of stuff? Call us to arrange a pickup!
  • Shop at the sale. I’m a big fan of vintage nicknacks (what my mom would call “junk”), so I was in my bliss at last year’s sale, but I also managed to leave with a big stack of useful cookbooks and a new bookshelf.
  • Volunteer to staff the Yard Sale or Bake Sale.
  • Bake your favorite treats and bring them in! We’re looking for made-from-scratch treats and special desserts you don’t see often in Marietta. You’ll be able to find gluten-free and vegan items as well. We believe it’s better to have one lovingly-made cookie rather than three mass-produced ones. So our Bake Sale is about an abundance of quality, not quantity. If you like the way that sounds, you won’t want to miss it.

Come for the Bake Sale and stay for the Yard Sale. Or vice-versa! Whatever the case, mark Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10 on your calendar. Come find us at the Tractor Supply Co. building in the Frontier Shopping Center in Marietta.

To learn more about volunteering or arranging a pickup, just visit our website. And look for us on Facebook, where we’ll be posting updates regularly, with photos of neato Yard Sale finds and exquisite desserts. Despite the fun tone–and this will be fun–hunger is serious business. Together, we can work to end it.