“The last two gleanings we had between 40 and 50 people show up, compared to earlier in the summer when we had a strawberry gleaning and only six people showed. Our communication is getting better,” he said last week. “We have had a lot of cooperation from growers. Only one so far has turned me down.”
At the invitation of growers, gleaners work fields and orchards, harvesting the unpicked produce which is distributed to food banks, food pantries, soup kitchens, and other charities where, according to Mr. Jensen, of Luckey, and a hunger relief advocate for the Society of St. Andrew, there has been a growing need.
“More people are having to rely on the food banks and pantries. You talk to any food pantry and they’re serving more and more people all the time. This area has been hard hit by the economy, and so has the state,” he said. “With what’s grown in this county nobody should go hungry. We live in the bread basket of the world.”
The Society was formed in 1979 as a Christian ministry dedicated to feeding the nation’s hungry. According to the non-profit organization’s website, the Society has delivered nearly 10.1 million pounds of salvaged potatoes and other produce to the needy in Ohio through what it calls the Potato Project. In 2006, the Society conducted 2,692 harvesting events that drew 27,772 volunteers. About 9.6 million pounds of vegetables and other produce were gleaned and distributed to 1,906 agencies.
At a Fulton County orchard, Mr. Jensen, also known as “Tater”, and a team of volunteers recently gathered 11,000 pounds of apples. Those were distributed to the Seagate Food Bank.
“I had called them and asked them if they would accept the apples on the Monday morning after we picked them on the weekend. They said, ‘Bring them in.’ They took them all,” he said.
This past weekend, volunteer gleaners were scheduled to harvest turnips, beets, and other vegetables from a farm on Brown Road in Oregon and squash from a Fremont area farm.
Mr. Jensen is planning gleaning projects for as long as the weather permits. He’s making arrangements to pick cabbage, apples, bell peppers, and other vegetables from fields throughout Northwest Ohio.
Drought conditions this summer hurt the yields of cucumbers, he said.
For information about the Society of St. Andrew visit: www.endhunger.org.