When planting favorite foods in the garden this year, consider including a few crops hungry Oregon families might like.

The Garden Writers Association launched the now-national Plant a Row for the Hungry program in 1995, which encourages the public to donate extra produce to local food banks, soup kitchens and other service organizations.

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates 13.6 percent of Oregon households experienced food insecurity — “the food intake of one or more household members was reduced and their eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year because the household lacked money and other resources for food” — and about 34 percent of Oregon Food Bank giveaways serve children.

According to the OFB’s 2010 Hunger Facts Assessment, Washington County emergency food handouts increased by 24 percent since 2008.

Since 1995, gardeners nation-wide have donated more than 18 million pounds of produce.

Growers at the Forest Grove Community Gardens joined in, donating 2,800 pounds of produce to the Oregon Food Bank last year, according Ellen Haystay, Forest Grove gardener.

About one dozen plots at the gardens are designated for the OFB in addition to individual gardeners who grow extra food.

Produce that stores and transports well is preferred. The OFB suggests tomatoes picked when slightly under-ripe, green beans, winter squash, garlic, hot peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, collard greens and onions.

Visit for a map outlining convenient donation locations, or call the Oregon Food Bank at 503-282-0555 for more information about donating.

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