Each week during the harvest season, our gleaning volunteers hit the fields to rescue produce that might otherwise go to waste to feed those in need. They’re not the only ones doing good in our neighborhood! Our produce rescue driver volunteers hit the gas daily, heading for farmers markets, farms and other locations to pick up already harvested leftover produce and deliver it to agencies feeding hungry people.
Three or four times a week from June to September this year, Tom and Barb Decker, longtime ATH supporters, have travelled to a farm near Edgerton to pick up already harvested vegetables (sometimes they even glean there too) and then deliver throughout the city.
“I do it because I like the people…farmers, other volunteers, the folks at food pantries,” said Tom. “I enjoy the heck out of helping. I think you have to have a job during retirement. You have to have a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning.”
Tom says that when delivering, he also sometimes gets a chance to interact with some of those he is helping. Recently, he met a fellow retiree at the Salvation Army, one of ATH’s partner agencies. “He said he came there because he couldn’t afford both his medication and food,” Tom commented. “He was not asking for sympathy—just saying what he had to do to get by.”
This season, we’re rescuing at day’s end at more farmers markets. Many have served as produce rescue drivers this season, but special thanks goes to key volunteers: Randy Burdge at the Overland Park Farmers Market, Chely Scarbrough at Brookside and Suzy Conaway at City Market, as well as, earlier in the season, Jesse Pruneda and Jean Schmitt.
Also, when we have pop-up pick-up opportunities and a group text goes out asking for volunteers to help…we know the most likely to respond is going to be Randy Burdge (again!…thanks so much, Randy), Jeff Horn or Nancy Nicolay…although many, many heeded the call and hit the road at a moment’s notice, day in and day out.
So far this year, we’ve delivered 112,608 lbs. from 235 produce pick-ups. Applause, applause to all who volunteered.
Although the harvest season is winding down, there are still some opportunities for you to help. Check out the dates that produce rescue drivers are needed and sign up today.