Got fruit? Maybe your garden is doing too well this summer and you need somewhere to SHARE all your extra bounty? Or maybe you’re looking for a good project for your scout group or community service hours or just a great way to make new friends and have an impact on our local environment?
Did you know that right here in San Diego County 500,000 people are food insecure? Simultaneously right here in our backyard, 500,000 tons of food are wasted annually and food waste adds 18% to landfill volume.
Gleaners gather surplus food from farms, gardens, backyards, and orchards to feed hungry people. They collected over 500,000 pounds of food in 2016 and most of these local gleaning organizations rely totally on volunteers and donated funds to maintain their charitable operations.
Want to help?
A new website is helping county residents and businesses end food waste and hunger in San Diego County by donating surplus fruits and vegetables to gleaner groups feeding the hungry.
Visit www.sandiegogleaners.org to learn how you can join hundreds of people already involved. The groups need all types of fruits and vegetables, volunteers of any age, assistance transporting collected food and cash donations to support their work. The site provides descriptions of each group, contact information and the geographic area each serves.
The site is hosted by the San Diego Food Systems Alliance and was compiled by an SDFSA-affiliated group that meets monthly to coordinate gleaning activities. Karen Clay, board president of one of the gleaning organizations, serves as chair.
Last year San Diego gleaners distributed nearly 252 tons of food, Clay reported. “However, in our county alone, at least 500,000 tons of food is wasted annually, adding 18 percent to landfill volumes, while 500,000 people live in poverty,” she said.
“Rather than compost edible food or dump it in landfills, everyone agrees it makes more sense to support groups like gleaners that will get the food to people who need it,” Clay said. “I can’t think of many other programs that help the environment, assist homeowners, reduce waste and feed hungry people all in one integrated process,” she added.
Clay noted that groups listed on the website work with donors who have only a couple of backyard trees, homeowners with small orchards and farmers with hundreds of trees. A new project collects unsold produce from several farmers’ markets.
Volunteers may choose their level of commitment, Clay said. Volunteers in the listed gleaning groups include many who have picked fruit weekly for decades while others only have time to participate once or twice. One gleaning group relies solely on volunteers above the age of 55. Other gleaners include scout troops, students completing community service requirements and members of service organizations.
The federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects donors from liability. Donors may claim tax deductions for the value of their contributions.
To learn more, visit www.sandiegogleaners.org and then reach out and SHARE your story with us so we can encourage others to join your efforts!