At Lerew’s Orchard in York Springs, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and his wife, Nina, joined a volunteer gleaning operation through Project SHARE of Carlisle.
Gleaning is a centuries-old concept where growers would leave excess food in their fields for the poor to pick up to feed their families for free for the labor of harvesting the produce. In today’s times, groups like Project SHARE organize volunteer opportunities to collect excess, unsaleable, but still perfectly good field crops, market leftovers, and the last planting that farmers do not pick or cannot sell. Whether it’s tomatoes or corn on the cob – or in today’s case, Granny Smith apples – the produce is donated to the charitable food system to be enjoyed by those who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity.
“If there’s anything worse than fresh food and hard work rotting away in farmers fields, it’s the fact there are more than two million Pennsylvanians facing hunger every day,” said Redding. “Today, Nina and I were humbled to spend time harvesting apples that will go directly to local families in need.
“You’ve probably heard me say it before, but you can’t have a charitable food system without a food system that’s charitable. Farmers like the Lerews are making a difference every day,” added Redding. “And every Pennsylvanian has a variety of opportunities to make a difference, too.”
So far this year, Project SHARE has gleaned more than 134,000 pounds of local food from farmers. Previous years have averaged around 90,000 pounds, making 2020 a record year for Project SHARE. All of the produce is free for the work of the labor to harvest. The donated produce is available at the Project SHARE farm stand in downtown Carlisle. Along with the gleaned produce, the farm stand distributes additional perishable products and bread. The farm stand serves as a substitute to regular food distributions of Project SHARE, so community members have access to fresh, nutritious food as needed.
Pennsylvanians interested in volunteering to support their community and Pennsylvania’s charitable food system have a variety of options:
- Volunteer your time or donate food or financial resources to a local food bank or local food pantry.
- Contact your local school district to learn about opportunities to assist with school food pantries or support out-of-school time feeding programs.
- Donate a harvested deer through Hunters Sharing the Harvest.
Pennsylvanians in need of assistance are encouraged to start with PA 211 by either searching their online resource database or texting their ZIP code to 898-211 to communicate with a live specialist. Pennsylvanians negatively affected by COVID-19 are eligible to receive state and federally sourced foods from Pennsylvania’s food banks and pantries.
For more information about food security and resources for Pennsylvanians in need, visit agriculture.pa.gov/foodsecurity.