BELLE GLADE -- Volunteers were working in the fields in Belle Glade today (April 29), picking celery as part of the Society of St. Andrew's Gleaning for Good program. The produce will go to area food pantries to feed people in need.
Gleaning for Good brings people together to harvest and share healthy food, reduce food waste, and build caring communities by offering nourishment to hungry neighbors. The organization partners with faith groups, secular groups, schools and individuals.
Gleaning for Good will harvest corn in Belle Glade from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Ages 5 and up are welcome to come and help pick corn for the food banks.
Gleaning is the Biblical practice of hand-gathering crops left in the fields after harvest.
To sign up, or for more information, go online to https://endhunger.org/
or see their Facebook page.
In 2021, through March, Gleaning for Good has has gleaned, gathered, and distributed 17,589,560 pounds of fresh produce in 1,020 events, with 3,440 volunteers. Food donated by 172 farmers has been distributed to hungry people through 802 feeding agencies. By comparison, the society estimates that 42 billion pounds of food has been wasted in the United States this year in the fields, transportation, supermarkets, restaurants and homes.
The Society of Saint Andrew. a nonprofit relief group that works with all religious demoninations, started with two families and a sheep shed in Big Island, Virginia in 1973.
Rev. Ken Horne and Rev. Ray Buchanan, two United Methodist ministers, were concerned with world hunger. In 1979, the two ministers were granted "a special appointment beyond the local church" by then Virginia Conference Bishop, Kenneth Goodson so they could found The Society of St. Andrew.
For the next five years the two pastors and their families lived together in order to model a simpler lifestyle that rejected consumerism by growing their own vegetables, raising sheep, chickens, and rabbits, etc. At the same time the two pastors lead workshops on responsible lifestyles and hunger issues.
During one such workshop at Franktown United Methodist Church, a farmer them about the facts they presented regarding food waste. From the discussion that followed, the Potato and Produce Project was born. On June 3, 1983, a farmer donated a tractor-trailer load of sweet potatoes to the Society of St. Andrew. This first load of salvaged sweet potatoes was delivered to the Central Virginia Food Bank.
Since that first load in 1983 the Society of St. Andrew's Potato and Produce Project has distributed well over 500 million pounds of food to America's hungry. Originally the ministry operated out of a converted sheepshed on the farm in Big Island. A new building was constructed in 1990 to house the growing ministry. Also in 1990, as an offshoot of the Potato and Produce Project, The Society of St. Andrew began the Seed Potato Project to offer a hand-up to impoverished communities who wish to grow their own produce.
In 1985, the Society of St. Andrew launched Harvest of Hope, a gleaning and study camp for youth. A major component of Harvest of Hope is field gleaning. As more and more people became exposed to gleaning, they wanted to introduce it to their own churches. As a result, the Gleaning Network was established in Virginia in 1988. Since then, gleaning has expanded dramatically.
Beginning in 1992, the Society of St. Andrew has expanded into other states in the form of regional offices and gleaning ministries.
The society now has three major hunger programs, The Gleaning Network, The Potato & Produce Project, and Harvest of Hope. The Gleaning Network salvages fresh crops by going into a farm field to harvest leftover or unwanted produce, and then distributing this food to hunger relief agencies free of charge.
Potato & Produce gathers truckloads of produce for distribution.
Harvest of Hope is a retreat program for long-distance volunteers to glean and serve.
Since 1995, the Society of Saint Andrew has maintained a presence throughout the state of Florida. The Florida Gleaning Network mobilizes thousands of volunteers to gather 3 to 4 million pounds of produce annually. The Sunshine State produces a variety of vegetables and fruits such as onions, white potatoes, blueberries, peaches, mangos, pears, strawberries, cabbage, lemons, cucumbers, squash, oranges, avocados, subtropical fruits and sweet corn.
The Florida office is located in Orlando and oversees all projects and events for the state. The state has three high critical agricultural producing and low food resource areas sectioned off into geographical regions: South, Central, and the Panhandle. Each area hosts a satellite gleaning coordinator position who works part-time to carry out gleans in the district.