Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Missions: Ag Against Hunger

A great charity in California grabs unharvested food from area farming fields to feed the hungry. Ag Against Hunger from California gather volunteers to grab the food that was missed by harvesters before it gets turned over into the soil.

From the Californian, Rusten Hogness gets dirty with the volunteers.

This Saturday will mark the start of Ag Against Hunger's new gleaning season, in a field near San Juan Bautista. No word on what the crop will be, but volunteers can be sure of harvesting satisfaction, knowing they are helping to feed hungry families.

Gleaners salvage lettuce, broccoli, onions, celery - whatever is left in the field after the harvest before the tractors roll in to till it all back into the soil.

Whatever is gathered will go back to the Ag Against Hunger coolers in Salinas. Within a couple of days, it will be on trucks going to food banks as far away as Sacramento, though most of it will stay here in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.

Last year, according to Ananda Jimenez, who coordinates the

gleaning for Ag Against Hunger, gleaners picked and gathered more than 120,000 pounds of fresh produce that went to food banks instead of getting tilled into the soil.

"We really need to give more to the food community that supplies food for the needy because I know there's an increasing need," said Schapper, who will soon be a supervising nurse at Salinas Valley State Prison after working at Natividad Medical Center for 27 years as a nurse manager.

"Lots of employees I see are really hurting. They have to hit the food banks to make ends meet."

It would be hard not to see the need, she said. "It's in the media, it's in my workplace, it's in the neighborhood, it's everywhere."

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