Harvest Now's website states that about 33 million people in the United States have substandard diets and must seek out emergency food supplies to supplement what they can't afford.
It also states that 84 million Americans have gardens, with an average production of 100 pounds per year. Harvest Now encourages those backyard growers to find local food banks and donate what they can spare.
Rubenstein said the 1993 federal Good Samaritan Act protects his facilities from liability if they are growing and donating food to charity.
West Virginia's Denmar, Pruntytown, Huttonsville, Anthony, Beckley, Parkersburg and St. Marys correctional centers are participating.
Pruntytown Warden Debra Minnix said Harvest Now encourages the practice of letting inmates keep some of the food they grow. In the lowest-security housing units, her inmates have kitchenettes where they can prepare it.
Minnix said prisoners will grow tomatoes, potatoes, squash, carrots and cucumbers - all things that have a fairly long shelf life and can be used in multiple ways.
Parkersburg will add green peppers, zucchini, pumpkins and, perhaps, watermelon to its mix, she said.
It's too soon to predict how much the prison plots will produce, but Minnix said the food bank will weigh and track the donations.
Pruntytown, a minimum-security facility with the look and feel of a school campus, already had several small gardens, and Minnix said the inmates are eager to expand them.
"People find a lot of pleasure in that," she said. "I'm sure there are a lot of inmates who will learn stuff, too."
Harvest Now, she said, is "a good lesson about giving back to society, not just taking from society."