How to Reduce Hunger One Row at a Time


We all want to reduce hunger. Food insecurity is a worldwide problem, but a solution may be as close as your backyard. Join the ranks of people who plant an extra row in their backyard gardens to donate to the poor.

How bad is the world’s hunger problem?

One in nine people worldwide do not have enough food to live healthy lives. And hunger kills more people each year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. That’s about 11% of the world’s population.

Astonishingly, hunger and food insecurity are still big problems in the U.S. as well. Would you believe that 14.3% of households in the U.S. are food insecure? Food insecurity means these households report disrupted eating patterns, reduced food intake, and reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet.

While government programs help, access to the fresh fruits and vegetables that promote healthy living can still be difficult. But the good news is that there’s a way for each of us to get our hands dirty and help solve the problem of hunger here in the U.S.

Here’s how to reduce hunger in your own backyard.

If you are looking for a grassroots tactic that answers the question of how to reduce hunger, look no further than your own backyard.

As I look out on our quarter-acre lot in suburbia, it seems crazy that this small plot could help tackle such a huge problem. But I ran across a really interesting movement called “Plant A Row” that helps us all learn how to reduce hunger and offers us a chance to be part of the solution.

The premise is simple. When you plant your garden each year, plant an extra row and donate the surplus produce to local food banks, soup kitchens and service organizations.

American gardeners — people just like you and me — have donated over 20 million pounds of produce this way, providing over 80 million meals in the last 20 years.

What does the Bible say about how to reduce hunger?

What struck me about this movement is how biblical it is. We care for God’s creation by caring for both the earth and people.

In several passages, the Hebrew Bible says that landowners and farmers should not reap the entire harvest. They should leave “the edges” and the “gleanings” for the poor.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19: 9-10, NRSV)

Like so much of the Bible, we’re told not to hoard our abundance and use every bit to care for our own households. Instead, we’re advised to share our abundance with those who have less.

No backyard? No problem

Maybe you don’t have a backyard. Or maybe (like me) you aren’t the best gardener. There are an abundance of cooperative community gardens that are also tackling the problem of how to reduce hunger.

Our own suburban church uses its bare lot to raise vegetables for the poor. Just last year they harvested almost 2,000 pounds of fresh vegetables that were delivered to local food cupboards and soup kitchens!

How can you get involved in reducing hunger?

I think the challenge for all of us is to see that even small donations can make a difference. But we can’t sit back and assume that people with bigger hearts and more time will do all the work. We are all called to help the poor in whatever small way we can and learn how to reduce hunger starting in our own backyards.


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