Final 2017 Report- Community Harvest Gleaning
Farm to Table Nutrition
Everyone deserves healthy food. But many of our community members struggle to put food on the table, and procuring fresh fruit and vegetables can be especially difficult. The WSDA Emergency Food Assistance Program reports that one in six Washingtonians used the services of their local food pantry in 2017. In the Cascade School District, 41% of the students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches and 700 households received a monthly food box in an area of approximately 10,000 residents. Adding to the problem is the fact that, according to a 2014 USDA study, 31% of the food produced in the United States is wasted and never eaten. Community Harvest works to fill this gap in the food system by mobilizing volunteers to glean excess or unmarketable produce which is then donated to food banks, providing healthy, nutrient-dense food to our neighbors in need.
In 2017 a committed volunteer base gleaned for over 400 hours to reduce food waste and increase access to fresh produce for our community’s most vulnerable residents. They provided an estimated $86,933 worth of fresh, local produce to 10,500 individuals a month through food banks and meal programs in Chelan and Douglas counties.
Richard, a customer at the Leavenworth Community Cupboard food bank, is disabled and lives off a fixed income. “I have a family of five,” he said. “Upper Valley MEND has always been our savior when times are hard. With a very large box of food monthly and the fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods, this carries us through the month and puts a smile on our faces.”
We are ever-grateful to the local farmers, orchardists, and backyard gardeners who allow us to harvest the fruits of their labor. We worked with 58 growers in 2017 and gleaned 56 different crops, a 51% increase in variety from the previous year. We continued to strengthen our valuable partnership with the Chelan Douglas Community Action Council which distributes our gleaned produce to 12 food banks and meal programs in the area.
“We get to give people something you know they are going to like,” said Michael, warehouse supervisor, ”We are in the business of feeding people and these people need food. You should see their faces when I bring the fresh fruit and vegetables. This is a slam dunk.”
We also had the opportunity to create new partnerships in 2017, like providing educational gleaning opportunities for the students at the Joyful Scholars Montessori School.
|Farmer Chris from Oh Yeah Farms helps dig up sweet potatoes during a glean at his farm||Michael and Denny from the CAC Distribution Warehouse prepare to distribute gleaned peaches||Students from the Joyful Scholars Montessori School display the blueberries they picked for local food banks at Roots Produce & Flower Farm|
Harvesting as a Community
Community Harvest is supported by people passionate about reducing food waste, reducing poverty, and increasing access to good nutrition. One of our volunteers, John, gleans because “it makes me feel good both rescuing food and helping folks in need get healthy food. I also like that it has a fixed scope and I enjoy meeting caring people.”
Gleaning is a win for everyone - food bank clients love to receive the produce, farmers love to see their excess produce be used for the good of the community, and volunteers love to have access to flexible and recurring volunteer events all summer. Each summer, food bank clients in Chelan and Douglas counties take home thousands of pounds of fresh, healthy produce, but it doesn’t happen by accident. It takes an enormous amount of community support to make these fresh produce initiatives possible. Thank you to everyone who gave their support and made 2017 a banner year for Community Harvest and those in need.
Quantifying Our Growth
|YEAR||Total Estimated Value of Produe Gleaned in Year||Total Pounds of Produce Gleaned in Year||Number of Volunteers||Volunteer Hours||Number of Produce Donors||Number of Gleaning Events|