On Saturday, June 18, the largest “gleaning” (picking produce during harvest) ever conducted by FOOD Share is scheduled to include a record 500 volunteers on the Somis farm of Ingrid and Christopher Loh.
The history of gleaning has its roots in Ventura County’s rich agricultural heritage, and many years ago, FOOD Share volunteers would glean left over crops from commercial fields and orchards. Today, commercial growers, farmers, and ranchers directly donate 4.6 million pounds of fresh produce and meat to the regional food bank on an annual basis, but gleaning has lived on in the backyards, gardens, and orchards of local residents whose property produces more fresh fruit and vegetables than they can consumer on their own.
FOOD Share has had a gleaning event somewhere in Ventura County nearly every day, working with county residents who have grown produce they wish to donate to the food bank. The Loh’s have become an integral part of this effort, having donated over a half million pounds of oranges in the last year alone. At last year’s large gleaning event, FOOD Share volunteers picked about 25,000 pounds of fruit from the Los’s orchard with 200 volunteers. This year, FOOD Share and the Loh’s plan to more than double those numbers. Most gleaning events are on residential properties or farm areas much smaller than the Loh’s orchards, but residents with larger orchards and gardens are encouraged to participate.
“I’ve been delighted by the generosity of our neighboring residents to our gleaning program, which helps provide fresh, healthy produce to the thousands of Ventura County neighbors experiencing hunger and food insecurity,” explains Bonnie Atmore, president and CEO of FOOD Share. “The Loh’s donation, however, goes above and beyond what we anticipate from donors, and we’re excited about this unprecedented opportunity. We can’t do it without volunteers, however, and we encourage as many people as possible to sign up for the gleaning event.”
WHAT: Volunteer gleaning for oranges, to benefit FOOD Share of Ventura County
WHERE: Somis Farm of Ingrid and Christopher Loh
WHEN: Saturday, June 18, 2016, 8:30 a.m.
WHO: Volunteers are needed to fulfill picking needs. This is a family-friend event; adults and children of all ages are welcome.
INFO: Find out more and sign up at www.foodshare.com/picks/?sheet-id=211
About FOOD Share:
More than 35 years ago, eight citizens performed a good deed by distributing food to those who were in need underneath a Ventura bridge. The early philanthropic movement quickly formed into what is now Ventura County’s regional food bank, FOOD Share, which has grown from serving a few hundred hungry people per month to 74,500 people. Today, staff and volunteers distribute more than 12 million pounds of food annually from two warehouses; more than 200 partner agencies, which include neighborhood and church food distributions and soup kitchens; as well as hunger assistance programs. FOOD Share’s programs provide healthy nutrition and education to children, families and seniors, which include: Kids’ Farmers Market, SENIOR Share, Nutrition Education, Community Market, SoCal Gas CARE Program and more. A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, FOOD Share is a member of the Feeding America network, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization.
In 2016, FOOD Share is rallying the community behind a viral initiative encouraging the public, local businesses, major corporations and community leaders and stakeholders to help combat hunger through an outreach campaign called Share16. The Share16 Challenge asks the community to share ways in which they support FOOD Share by documenting their experiences and efforts on social media with the #Share16 hashtag.