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Central Standard

Gleaning Farmers' Fields For The Hungry

Phil Roeder

On this Tuesday's Central Standard, learn about an area organization that gleans sweet corn fields, apple orchards, and more, transporting fresh fruits and vegetables to the hungry in our area.

The Society of St. Andrew, West (SoSA) works with farmers, growers, packers and other produce handlers to package and transport their unmarketable produce from their fields to food banks and agencies that feed the hungry. Just last year, they transported over 2.6 million lbs of produce despite the challenges many farmers in our region had with wind storms, weather and flooding. This year they hope to reach 3 million.

We'll be joined by Lisa Ousley, Director of SoSA West, John Hornbeck, from Episcopal Community Services, and Katherine Kelly, Executive Director of Cultivate KC.

Unmarketable produce is considered an 'understood expense' for farmers. SoSA has figured out a way to turn this situation into a win-win for everyone involved. Harvest Public Media also reports that:

The connection from field to food bank is especially important for the hungry and homeless population... Both food banks and farmers reap the benefits. Food banks get rare donations of delicious fresh food. Farmers get to see everything they grow put to good use. 


In 1979 two Methodist ministers in the south were driving past commercial agriculture fields, and noticed they were full of rotting food. They asked themselves, with the country on the brink of recession and many people looking to soup kitchens and pantries for their groceries, what can be done?



The locations listed on the map are farms, fields, orchards, schools, and church gardens that have agreed to allow us to glean and/or pick up excess produce when it is available. To participate anywhere in the Midwest, contact the western headquarters at 816-921-0856 or submit your contact information on the SoSA West web page (link below.) Please sign up early (springtime) to schedule summer and fall gleaning opportunities.


Later in this show, learn about another creative use of food waste happening right now, in a report by Kathleen Masterson for Harvest Public Media. Read more here.

Throwing food scraps to hogs and other farm animals is an age-old practice. As food production has become more industrialized, food factories have found ways to continue to recycle massive amounts of would-be food waste.  Their motives aren't purely environmental; keeping the scraps out of the landfill makes more money for food manufacturers and saves cash for farmers. This kind of food recycling doesn't include what's been on your plate or produce that doesn't get sold at grocery stores – that kind of food waste isn't consistent or steady, so it's generally not reliable enough for large-scale farms. But every factory that makes food – be it tomato sauce, oatmeal, cereals, pasta, cinnamon toast – has some kind of waste. Often, more than 50 percent of livestock feed is made up of some kind of recycled material, said Iowa State University animal scientist Mike Persia. "Animal agriculture is one of the leaders in the green revolution, even though they have never touted that," Persia said.