As fall approaches in Adams County, the South Central Community Action Program‘s Gleaning Project has already distributed more than 420,000 pounds of food to food insecure people in the area. And many more pounds of apples, pumpkins and squash will be gleaned before the season ends in mid-November.
The Gleaning Project, which helped nearly 8,000 people in 2021, works with local farms and the farming community to reduce food waste and tackle food insecurity at the local level. “It’s a sense of community that comes together. This is what it means to me; helping people in our local community, ”said project coordinator Lori Mitchell.
The program relies on a team of 500 to 1,000 volunteer “food movers” each year to glean food from local farms, to transport, store and monitor produce stands and to share food with people in need. food insecurity. The movers bring the products to more than 40 community pantries, serving those without transportation. The program also partners with food banks and senior centers.
“Farms could have twenty to thirty percent food waste,” Mitchell said.
The Gleaning Project was founded in 2009 by Jerry and Jan Althoff and was adopted by SCCAP in 2018. There are currently two locations in Pennsylvania: one in Adams County and the other in Franklin County.
The need for food assistance has increased dramatically during the pandemic with nearly twice as many commodities shared this year as in 2019. “The community has really grown stronger,” Mitchell said, noting that the Gleaning Project has started working with backyard gardens and farmers to help contribute to their produce stand.
The Gleaning Project hosts two fundraisers per year: the Empty Bowls fundraiser, which takes place this year in April, which connects artists who make ceramic bowls and restaurants that offer soup, and the fundraiser Glean-A-Mania Fund which takes place in early August. At Glean-A-Mania 2021, over 30,000 pounds of fresh produce were shared in one week.
The Gleaning Project looks to the future, hoping to expand its bedroom refrigerator to hold more food so it can continue to reach more of the food insecure population and respond better to the needs of the community.
“I feel very honored to work here and to support people in my community. It is a work of well-being, believe me. It’s gratifying, ”Mitchell said.
Learn more about the Gleaning Project.