Note from Lisa Ousley, After the Harvest Executive Director: Sally Luck is the outgoing President of ATH’s Board of Directors. She is the founding Board President and has served in that position for two years. Jim Merrill, another founding Board Member, takes the position of President of the Board at the upcoming Board Meeting on May 25. We are grateful for the leadership and guidance of both of these extraordinary Friends of ATH.
From Sally Luck (pictured above is Sally and her husband Bill at ATH’s Harvest Happy Hour): It was a short two years ago that a small group of people took a leap of faith together after making a decision that those in need of fresh food in Kansas and Missouri would be well-served by a new organization–After the Harvest. Lisa Ousley, ATH Executive Director; Karin Page, then ATH Program Director; and founding Board Members Christina Martin, Jim Merrill and Mark Smith and I were partners in this venture. We had just enough knowledge of how to form a non-profit, great partnerships and support in the community, a great deal of knowledge of how to glean and distribute food and an immeasurable amount of passion that this new start-up would be a success and that it just made sense.
It made sense to keep funding in the community to benefit our own. It made sense to continue and foster the great relationships with farmers, donors, advisors, foundations, volunteers and other supporters. It made sense to get food that might be wasted into the hands of those who are hungry. It made sense to provide farmers with a workable, honorable, cost effective means of dealing with produce that was healthy and wholesome but for some reason not marketable.
It was not easy in the beginning. There were uncharted paths and hours of figuring out solutions to problems we had never anticipated, but with a bit of good luck, some great advice, a lot of hard work and the early support of a few faithful funders, we hit the ground running that first season and distributed more than 1.5 million pounds of produce.
Last year, the weather was not favorable to local farmers with the cold, wet spring and later growing season. But we still distributed nearly 2.2 million pounds of fresh produce. And we are happy to report that all our farmers have stayed with us for now the third season of growing and gleaning. We have added even more farmers, partners and volunteers and our funders have continued to see the value that we bring to the community.
Already in 2016 we have brought in more large loads of produce from outside our local growing area than we ever imagined we could. Our organization has grown and matured and is rapidly accomplishing our strategic plan laid out in our very early days. We have added some wonderful staff members and moved into our own offices.
This kind of success does not happen in a vacuum. It takes many hours of work and a great spirit of kindness and compassion from many people. I would like to thank those who have taken this journey along with us. Your support has made us successful and we look forward to even bigger and better things in the next two years and beyond.