From Fields to Plates: ATH nears 1 million pounds gleaned in 2023

#FightingFoodInsecurity #ReducingFoodWaste #ImprovingNutrition

From Fields to Plates: ATH nears 1 million pounds gleaned in 2023

OCT 30, 2023

On Oct. 11, a group of high school seniors from Shawnee Mission East volunteered to glean apples from Cider Hill Family Orchard in Kansas City, Kan. The group harvested an impressive 245 pounds of apples, which were delivered to ATH Agency Partner Just Food.

As the fall season settles in and the gleaning season winds down, ATH continues its unwavering commitment to rescuing fresh produce and combating food waste. Year to date, our team has exceeded an incredible milestone, rescuing over 950,000 pounds of fresh produce. We’re on track to surpass 1 million pounds by November, marking a remarkable achievement in our ongoing mission.

While we’ve made significant progress, it’s essential to acknowledge the challenges we’ve faced. The transition from summer to fall crops brought a temporary slowdown in local produce donations. Drought conditions earlier in the season and a hot September contributed to smaller apple crops compared to previous years.

Despite these challenges, our dedicated volunteers and partners worked tirelessly to ensure that no nutritious produce went to waste.

Here’s a breakdown of our recent efforts:

  • Market Salvages: In September, we completed 36 pickups from 10 different farmers’ markets, resulting in a total of 1,963 pounds of rescued produce.
  • Farm Salvage Pickups: We conducted 23 salvages from five different farms during September, amounting to 5,180 pounds of rescued produce.
Every year with help from their neighbors and churchgoers, Norm and Edith Van Booven plant a garden entirely for ATH. This year, St. Isidore’s Garden produced its largest sweet potato to date at over 13 pounds!
  • Field Gleanings: Throughout September, we engaged in 14 gleanings at 11 farms, primarily focusing on apples, and successfully gleaned 5,172 pounds of fresh, healthy produce.
  • Daily Distributor Salvages: Our work with Kanbe’s and Loffredo in September resulted in 19 salvages, providing a significant 22,630 pounds of rescued produce.

As we look to the future, it’s crucial to address the challenges we face. Budgetary constraints and the end of the harvest season led to a decrease in fair share salvages. Regrettably, we had to turn down thousands of pounds of winter squash and other crops in September and into October. However, our commitment remains unwavering.

We’ve also extended our reach, collaborating with partner pantry SMUUCH for weekly salvages from Costco. In September, we completed three salvages, rescuing a total of 8,351 pounds of excess produce. Additionally, one more salvage of excess produce from Catholic Charities yielded 1,712 pounds.

At ATH, we are deeply grateful for the unwavering support of our dedicated volunteers, partner agencies, and the communities we serve. Together, we will continue to build a more equitable and sustainable food system for all, one pound of rescued produce at a time.