August 11, 2009

A volunteer perspective on gleaning

[Another guest post! This one is from Kelly A. Campbell, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University and a Bread for the City volunteer. --Jeffrey]

Last Saturday was my first day as a Bread for the City volunteer. When my alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 6AM (ungodly for a weekend at least), I was actually pretty excited.

Not only was I going to glean for apples to help provide fresh fruit for food bags to feed Bread for the City’s clients, I was also going to observe and interact with everyone involved.

On the way to Crooked Run Orchard in Purcellville, VA, I learned about how a change from canned goods to fresh produce can help reduce chronic conditions like diabetes. I learned that providing fresh fruits and vegetables to vulnerable residents of Washington D.C. is truly a group effort. Several local farms and farmer’s markets donate the left over fresh produce that they don’t sell to fill Bread for the City’s pantries, truly paying it forward.

In just over a month, between the gleanings, farm pick-ups and farmers market pickups, Bread for the City has received almost 20,000 pounds of fresh food that has helped feed D.C’s low-income population.

When we arrived at Crooked Run Orchard, we were greeted by a diverse group of volunteers who were ready to glean the ripe apples that had already fallen to the ground.

There were young people and older people from all walks of life: college students, professionals, retirees, church members and families with young children. Although we didn’t all know each other, we quickly bonded while we gleaned. We helped fill each other’s bags and issued gentle warnings to beware of poison ivy.

When I arrived back in D.C. and watched the crates of apples being unloaded, it felt great knowing that come Monday morning, some hungry D.C. residents would receive bags of fresh fruits and vegetables.

And, that’s worth getting up for at 6AM any day of the week.

[So far, Bread for the City has brought in nearly $10,000 worth of free produce from regional farms - in just one month! Thanks to all of our participating farms, markets, and volunteers. Please contact me if you'd like to be involved.]

No comments: