This spring, Connecticut Food Bank will mark the fifth anniversary of its Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign, which encourages home and community gardeners and farmers to plant an extra row of produce specifically to donate to local hunger-relief efforts.

Every extra tomato, squash or watermelon can go a long way to help feed those who don't have enough to eat every day. While Connecticut has the highest per capita income in the U.S., about 390,000 people are at risk of hunger each year -- children, working parents, people with disabilities and seniors.

Since the food bank launched the campaign in 2006, the program has collected about 11,400 pounds of fresh produce for people struggling with hunger in Connecticut.

"As we start our fifth year with Plant a Row, we recognize the need to do more with the program so that we can feed more people in need with nutritious fruits and vegetables," said Marilyn Wilkes, volunteer Plant a Row coordinator for Connecticut. "To grow the program, we need the help of the gardening community."

Gardeners, farmers, schools, places of worship, youth and community groups and businesses can make a difference by adding a row of seedbeds or donating their surplus produce to Connecticut Food Bank and other local hunger-relief organizations. Donations are tax-deductible and donor receipts will be provided.

To help gardeners get started, Connecticut Food Bank is giving away free tomato seeds (donated by H. J. Heinz Company). Call the food bank at 203-469-5000 for details on how to obtain the free seeds.

Fruit and vegetables most needed include spinach, kale, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, peas, green beans, tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplants, summer and winter squash, zucchini, beets and garlic.

Clean, fresh produce can be dropped off at any of Connecticut Food Bank's warehouses in East Haven, Fairfield and Waterbury. Visit for directions to Connecticut Food Bank's warehouses.

Call Sade Heard at Connecticut Food Bank at 203-469-5000 ext. 332, or visit for more information.

For large donations, or to volunteer with Plant a Row, call Wilkes at 203-415-4712.