Easton and the non-profit organization Food Rescue US are teaming up once again to ask residents to donate their excess summer produce to homebound seniors through the “Grow-A-Row” program.   

Every Tuesday, starting on June 20 residents can drop off their extra produce at Shaggy Coos Farm at 53 Center Road from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for volunteer drivers to deliver the food to Easton’s seniors. The program ends on Sep. 12. 

Last year, the “Grow-A-Row” program donated an average of four pounds of fresh food each week to home bound seniors.   

Alison Witherbee, Easton’s Municipal Agent for the Aging and Social Services Director, was approached by Food Rescue US last spring about a food delivery program for seniors.  

In the first week, they began delivering fresh herbs to about 10 homebound seniors. As the summer went on and the growing season produced more yield, they started delivering fruits and vegetables to 14 home bound seniors.  

Grow- a- Row Drop off Site at Shaggy Coos. Contributed Photo.

“We never knew what we were going to get but we delivered cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces, zucchini, and an unusual squash called Serpentine Squash, which looked more like a gourd, but the seniors loved it,” said Witherbee.    

Home gardeners are encouraged to plant an extra row of fresh produce for donation. Residents can also support this program by purchasing extra produce from local farms or volunteering to be delivery drivers. Drivers spend approximately two hours visiting up to four Easton seniors on Tuesday afternoons. 

The program is sponsored by Food Rescue US-Fairfield County, a local non-profit, in partnership with the Easton Municipal Agent for the Aging and the Easton Energy & Environment Task Force.  

“We work together to help promote the program to Easton residents and manage the produce and egg intake weekly when in season,” said Haley Schulman, Co-Site Director of Food Rescue US-Fairfield County. “Food Rescue US keeps track of the measurable impact of the program and volunteers with Easton Agent for the Aging to handle home delivery of the donations.” 

Food Rescue US is a program that works to eliminate hunger and food waste and keep food out of landfills which reduces greenhouse gasses. Through their web-based app, they engage volunteers to donate fresh food surpluses from local businesses to social service agencies.  It currently has over 120 active food donors, manages a network serving over 200 social service agencies, has over 3,000 lifetime volunteer rescuers, and coordinates 350+ rescues per week.  

“We look to engage more home gardeners in 2023 and identify creative collaborations that increase locally grown food access to homebound seniors,” said Schulman. “We also would like to see more involvement from non-growers. They are encouraged to participate in the program while supporting local farms at the same time and purchase items for donation from the various Easton farm stands.” 

There are 21 volunteer rescuers in Easton. Food Rescue US-Fairfield County has partnerships with several Easton food donors including Snow’s Farm, Silverman’s Farm, Sport Hill Farm, and Helen Keller Middle School. 

“We are looking forward to season two,” said Witherbee. “It’s a nice way to provide fresh produce to seniors who can’t access them as well as having contact with the seniors.” 

To volunteer as a driver, or for more information, contact Alison Witherbee at awitherbee@eastonct.gov / 203-268-1137.  

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