July 23, 2009

Glean for the City: Corn and More

Monday was our second Glean for the City event, again at Parker Farms.

I was accompanied by 20 volunteers from the Washington Quaker Workcamps. With this large volunteer group we picked literally tons of corn -- and fast. We filled every produce bin, and decided to stuff every picking bag full for good measure. On the drive home, I was accompanied by the sweet scent of nearly 2,000 lbs of corn in the van.

Our volunteers wanted more. "I wish we could keep going! We’ve barely put a dent in this field, and I can't believe the rest will go to waste."

Another volunteer remarked to me that, "The government should create a volunteer corps to organize gleanings with farms and food pantries. But I am happy that Bread for the City is doing their part."

The corn will be split up between our SE and NW centers. This will provide a fresh produce staple for our food bags for the rest of the week.

As a side note: We typically offer canned corn in our pantry, which is very popular with our clients - but also high in sodium! Fresh corn is very high in fiber and generally healthy. Just as important, it is easy to prepare: boil for 15 minutes, grill for 10 minutes, cut it off the cob and put it in salsa or salad. Our volunteers were eating it right off the cob, and so was I. We even brought some back for the Bread for the City parking lot barbecue, where it was a big hit.

In trying to bring in more fresh produce to the pantry, we're also working toward variety. Sharon, our in-house nutritionist, likes to say " people should eat a variety of colors.” The more colors, the more variety of vitamins and minerals. A large array of nutrients supports and protects the body from illness and chronic conditions.

So on Sunday, I picked up over 800 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies from our friends at the West End Farmer's Market. Our fridge is now stocked with a rainbow variety, including squash, eggplants, peppers, greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh bread.

The quantity has increased with every trip to the West End Market, and I will go every Sunday until they close for the season. Combined with our gleanings, this will enable us to bring both variety and quantity to our food pantry for months.

We’re deeply grateful to Parker Farms, FreshFarms Markets, and all of our community partners for helping us make sure that this surplus food will go to those who need it most, instead of going to waste.


Matt said...

This is awesome guys. Keep up the good work.

Ed Bruske said...

Great job. Congratulations. Truly a labor of love, thanks to all.