At Helping Hands Howard City, your input is essential to our business. If you have any questions or comments, please call us at 231-937-5177 or send us an e-mail. We are always looking for volunteers of any and all kinds. Click here if you would like to volunteer!
Q. What is the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?
A. Food Banks are large scale operations that collect and distribute food and other household items to local food pantries, soup kitchens, etc. Food Pantries are local walk-in facilities where families in need go to get food. (Note: In some parts of the country, what we are calling a "food pantry" is instead referred to as a "food shelf", "food closet", "food cupboard", "food share" or even "food bank".). The typical food pantry operates out of a local house of worship or other civic building. Most of the foods distributed by the pantries are packaged, canned or dry goods. Refrigeration is usually limited to dairy items such as milk and cheese. Produce is rarely available.
Q. I love the idea of sharing produce I have grown, how can I do this?
A. Please call us at 231-937-5177 or send us an e-mail to schedule a time for you to make your delivery. On the day of your scheduled delivery, please harvest your crops in the early morning while they still have some of the coolness of the evening air. If they have dew, wipe them dry. Each item should be visually inspected for serious bruising, insect damage, and ripeness. Do not donate produce that you would not buy for your own family. Produce that is overripe, has mushy spots, or is seriously blemished should either be made into a soup, stew, or go into a compost pile but not donated. (Note, if you used any pesticide on your garden, please take the time to clean each piece of produce as recommended by the pesticide manufacturer on the label before you let anyone eat it.)
Next, please package your produce in paper supermarket bags and bring them to us. If you find us convenient to get to, you can continue to share your produce with us through the rest of the growing season. And lastly, please remember to let your fellow gardeners know about Helping Hands of Howard City so they can share the bounty of their garden at their harvest time!
Q. I have a lot of tomatoes but only a few of cucumbers, should I bother to bring them?
A. Yes! The produce you bring will be pooled with that of other backyard gardeners in your area. For all you know, the next gardener might bring only 3 tomatoes and two bags of cucumbers. Remember, the key thing is that food should not be wasted, especially when so many Americans are having a hard time feeding their families. Your bounty, large or small, will help to diminish hunger in America.
Q. Is my food donation tax deductible?
A. Helping Hands is a 501(c)3 organization and donations to the organization may provide tax benefits. You should consult with a qualified tax professional for any specific questions.
Q. Growing season is over... can I still donate to a food pantry?
A. Pantries need your help all year long. We always have need of and can use store bought items and just about any donation will help.
Q. What happens if someone becomes ill after eating something I donated?
A. You are protected by the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act signed during the Clinton administration. The Act is intended to encourage donations of food to nonprofit organizations while providing the donor with "Good Samaritan" protection. You are provided protection from criminal and civil liability providing you did not exhibit gross negligence. The text of the act can be found here.