Abundance Aids Pantries
Volunteers Collect Food That Otherwise Would Go To Waste
Posted: October 6, 2012
Volunteer Natalie Lester, 19, a James Madison University sophomore, collects Asian greens from Elaine Nolt with Woods Edge Farm at Tuesday’s Harrisonburg Farmers Market. The donated greens were collected for a program supported by RISE, a faith- based community project of the United Methodist Church that supports area food pantries. (Photos by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
Lindsay Davis delivers produce to Tom Mies, coordinator of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church food pantry, Tuesday.
Lindsay Davis collects turnips from John Hege from Hege’s Produce of Broadway at the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market Tuesday. The produce and baked goods were delivered to the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church food pantry.
“Oh, absolutely,” Lindsay Davis replied. “We can always find some way to use them.”
The exchange is becoming a new norm after each Tuesday market, as a group of so-called “gleaners” has started its weekly troll among the vendors, requesting leftover produce and other food items for local charities.
The group, which started gleaning in July, already has transferred about 1,300 pounds of food that may have otherwise been wasted from the market to local food pantries.
On Tuesday, 27 pounds went to the food pantry hosted by Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Harrisonburg.
“People love the fresh produce,” said Tom Mies, coordinator of the pantry. “This will be gone by 3 o’clock this evening.”
Anything helps a pantry that feeds up to 120 families each day and has to turn local residents away at least once a week, he said.
The Catholic church’s pantry is one of four reaping the benefit of the new gleaning group. Others include pantries run by Edom United Methodist Church and Community Mennonite Church, as well as Summit House, a self-help rehabilitation program meant to help people recover from mental illness.
The gleaners group, started locally by Melissa Fretwell, is now led by Lindsay Davis, a recent Bridgewater College graduate. She got involved through RISE United Methodist Faith Community in the city, where she coordinates both the gleaners and the Sister2Sister program.
The local gleaning program is a branch of the Society of St. Andrew, a Christian nonprofit organization that aims to minister while providing food gleaned from farms across the nation.
“I just think that it’s a beautiful idea,” Davis said. “It’s just this awesome way of seeing people give what they have.”
And, usually, they give pretty generously.
Elaine Nolt of Woods Edge Farm in Singers Glen donated a bucket of Asian greens Tuesday, including spinach, arugula and kale.
“I hate to see it go to waste,” she said, noting that it’d end up in the compost if her neighbors wouldn’t take it.
Grant Bentz, farm manager at Hickory Hill Farm of Keezletown, usually donates kale or broccoli each week.
“I wish I could donate more, honestly,” he said.
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