- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Volunteers are needed to help gather unharvested food from local fields and orchards and distribute it to those in need.

In Adams County, the Gleaning Project of South Central Pennsylvania improved the nutrition of more than 5,000 individuals in the past year, said Hannah Grose, gleaning coordinator for South Central Community Action Programs (SCCAP).

The project salvaged 107,725 pounds of food between June 2013 and June 2014, and “we hope to exceed that this year,” Grose said.

“We brought in 36,029 pounds during July and August of this year,” she said.

“We’re in the midst of our busy season,” Grose said Tuesday, as the program’s work shifts from summer crops to autumn ones such as apples, pumpkins, and corn.

The Gleaning Project gathers food left behind by mechanical harvesters and produce that is too small or visually imperfect for commercial use, Grose said.

Collected items also include fruit that has fallen from trees, produce not ripe enough for the main harvest but not plentiful enough to make a second harvest economically viable, and items that did not sell at fruit markets, Grose said.

“We can always use more volunteers,” she said.

Potential volunteers can contact the program at [email protected] or 334-7634 ext. 162.

Information is available www.thegleaningproject.org or on Facebook at The Gleaning Project of South Central PA.

Some 160 volunteers are already on the program’s email list, she said, but only five to 15 are typically available for gleaning events. Food recipients are among the most frequent volunteers, she said.

Gleaning events usually last about two hours, and typically occur on weekday evenings or weekends so that working people can take part, Grose said.

There are also opportunities to process and distribute food, she said, and to preserve it by making sauce out of apples or tomatoes, Grose said.

The program works with about 40 different growers and markets through the year, Grose said.

It distributes produce through area food pantries, relief agencies, faith-based groups, and senior centers, she said, as well as programs like the Ruth’s Harvest Backpack effort that allows reduced- and free-lunch students to take food home from James Gettys Elementary School.

A fruit and vegetable stand makes fresh fruit and vegetables available for free to clients of various programs at the SCAAP headquarters, 153 N. Stratton St., Gettysburg.

The Gleaning Project is directed toward households with incomes ranging up to 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, Grose said, with the goal of closing the gap between government assistance and what is truly needed for a family to feed itself adequately and healthily.

The program also permits families to add fresh produce to the packaged items typically available through food pantries, Grose said.

Grose comes by her interest in food issues honestly. As she was growing up on a farm in North Carolina, her mother served as a gleaning coordinator.

Grose, who has held the position for a year, is a 2013 graduate of Gettysburg College, where she majored in environmental studies.

In addition to societal aspects of food issues, she said, there are also environmental impacts. The energy and environmental stressors such as fertilizer that go into wasted food are themselves wasted, she said, and the decay of unused food emits greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

“The Adams County Gleaning Network began in 2009 under the direction of engaged community members Jan and Jerry Althoff,” who salvaged over 300,000 pounds of food in four years, project’s website says.

“In the spring of 2013, the Althoffs turned The Network over to the Adams County Food Policy Council” and SCCAP, the website says.

In addition to Adams County efforts, a new “chapter” of the project began this year in Franklin County.





Information from: Gettysburg Times, https://www.gettysburgtimes.com

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