Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Time Travel Tuesday- Gleaning


If you can't feed one hundred people then just feed one.
-Mother Theresa

For this Time Travel Tuesday, I pursued an idea that has been tugging at my heart for months. I want to start a local gleaning program.  Gleaning is an ancient biblical practice of hand gathering leftover crops after harvest. My first step to realizing this little dream began by visiting a successful model in Sarasota. Once a week volunteers with Transitions Sarasota spend up to two hours picking the leftovers from a farm for a weekly delivery to the local food bank. About thirty core volunteers comb though the fields of a three and half acre organic farm that is next to a golf course and a gated residential community. Last year alone, they picked 43,000 pounds of fresh produce that would have otherwise been left to rot in the field. That is 43 with a comma and three zeros following it that is no longer going to waste as families go hungry.

Before we started this the food bank only carried non- perishables like canned foods.” Lynn Jarvis said.

Lynn is one of the original volunteers of the program that started two and half years ago, she says she comes out because it allows her to be outside and gives her a sense of satisfaction to help. Volunteers are allowed to take one bag of whatever they pick home, which is usually enough to last a week.

That is nice. It is really nice to meet s many other people here. We share recipes. You would never guess how many different ways thee are to make kale.”

“It’s a win–win-win. The food bank gets fresh organic produce to distribute to one hundred and sixty feeding programs around the county. The farmer gets a tax write off for retail value of the produce and the volunteers seem to enjoy the whole experience. Once word got out, we have plenty of help.” Don Hall, the catalyst of Transitions Sarasota added.

I was so excited by my trip to the farm I have already set up meetings with two local partner agencies.  I am also learning so much about this issue of hunger. According to the Society of St. Andrew, a grass roots hunger relief agency, 96 billion pounds of food is wasted every year while 40 million Americans live in poverty.  SOSA is a national hunger relief agency that coordinates gleaning programs in at least eight states including Florida. They may just have something similar in your area, or you can always start one. For more information, visit SOSA at www.endhunger.org

 Do you remember how much fun it is to start something?

For today's "Sky's the Limit" on what you can learn: Facts about Hunger: According to www.dosomething.org, 1 in 6 Americans faces hunger. Food insecurity affects every county in every state in the country with more than 50 million Americans struggling to put food on the table.

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