Gleaning: Scavenging in a world of plenty, by Laura Silverman, from Edible Hudson Valley
Helping Hudson Valley Farmers Feed the Hudson Valley's Hungry
Soup kitchens and food pantries provide meals for Orange County's needy population. Often these services are stretched thin and cannot meet all the needs of this growing population. Situational restrictions, such as limited cold storage or limited funds, make it difficult to provide nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods like fresh, unprocessed vegetables.
Agricultural producers in Orange County donate harvested produce to emergency food programs. However, there are thousands of pounds of produce that are left in fields because they are not cosmetically attractive. Farmers cannot afford the labor expense to harvest produce that has no market value. To acquire this produce, such as lettuce, sweet corn, squash, apples, tomatoes, peppers and other fruits and vegetables, organizing crews of volunteers to field-glean, package and transport the product isnecessary.
The increasing deer population causes significant crop damage in this region. Many producers acquire Deer Damage permits to shoot deer on their farms. However, once shot, they must dispose of the deer. While there are butchers that will cut up the lean meat, usually for a fee, getting the carcass to them in a timely manner requires a refrigerated truck. Therefore, in most cases, the carcass is simply buried. Organizing a crew of volunteers to retrieve the meat, butcher and distribute it provides the farmer with the option to donate. Cornell Cooperative Extension was awarded a one time grant of $167,000 through Vitagrant to coordinate and execute field gleanings for a period of two years. Between 2002 and 2004, over 170,000 pounds of nutritious fruits, vegetables and venison were donated. In June of 2006, Cornell Cooperative Extension was awarded $50,000 per year to continue our efforts over 5 years. The NYS Department of Health is funding the gleaning program through the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP). By July of 2006, a Gleaning Coordinator was hired and collections began. Collaborations were formed between community organizations and individual agribusinesses.
"Local food pantries would have a huge hole in their offerings if it wasn't for the Gleaning Program." -Marietta Allen, Food Pantry Director, St. Francis of Assisi, Newburgh
From July 2006 to December 2008 we have collected/butchered:
-- 281,337 lbs. of produce.
-- 3,556 lbs. of ground venison.
All for a total estimated value of over $220,000
Summary: HPNAP has been very successful in its first year, providing over 210,000 servings to the needy of Orange County as well as other areas of the Hudson Valley. In 2006, Congress passed a bill encouraging farmers to donate fresh produce by providing incentive through a tax credit. This program is an effective vehicle to utilize this credit. Agricultural producers with deer problems have begun to find a solution in the HPNAP program. The variety and nutritional value of produce available for consumption at soup kitchens and pantries has improved.
Stop Deer from Eating Your Profits ...while helping to feed the hungry. Learn how to keep nuisance deer from destroying your crops and assist our Venison Donation program by providing meat for the needy!
Stiles NajacFood Security Coordinator SRN28@cornell.edu
-- Gleaning Program, produce donations
-- Deer Management, venison donations
-- Nutrition Education in Soup Kitchens and Food Pantries
Last updated March 8, 2016