Encinitas nonprofit enlists home gardeners in the fight against hunger

Healthy Day Partners, which recently launched a Homegrown Hunger Relief program, also creates educational gardens and farms.
Healthy Day Partners, which recently launched a Homegrown Hunger Relief program, also creates educational gardens and farms.

Encinitas-based nonprofit Healthy Day Partners has launched a program that lets local gardeners donate their produce to people in need.

The program, Homegrown Hunger Relief, is especially timely as food scarcity rates have skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have enough fresh food to end hunger right now, what we lack are the systems that create equal access to healthy food for everyone,” explains Mim Michelove, CEO and president of Healthy Day Partners.

The Homegrown Hunger Relief program solves that with a mobile app called Fresh Food Connect. Gardeners can use it to log what type of produce they want to donate, and how much. After that, they can drop it off at a nearby Donation Station, listed on the app.

Healthy Day Partners collects all the fresh produce donations, and delivers the local bounty directly to agencies that serve people facing food insecurity. There is an ongoing need for nutritious foods like seasonal greens, citrus, herbs, squash and tomatoes.

“By harnessing technology, our local gardeners can help end hunger, right here in their own hometown,” Michelove said. “This program empowers neighbors to help neighbors, and creates a more just local food system.”

Where and when to donate

Currently, there are three Homegrown Hunger Relief Donation Stations open every Sunday between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. including the newest Donation Stations at San Diego Botanic Garden, 300 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas.

In an effort to help foster more local gardening, Healthy Day Partners is hosting a plant sale on Sunday, Feb. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the San Diego Botanic Garden parking lot. Organic seedlings will be sold at half-price, and free seeds will be provided by Jimbo’s...Naturally.

Healthy Day’s mission is to nourish and heal people and the planet through healthier and more just local food systems, ecological practices, and environmental education. Healthy Day Partners creates educational gardens and farms where students have the opportunity to grow organic fruits and vegetables for their cafeteria, and to connect general education directly to the school lunch program, to student health, and the health of the planet. Healthy Day Partners also advocates for equal access to healthy, quality food as a basic human right, regardless of zip codes or income level. For more information, visit healthydaypartners.org.