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Gleaning program helps our community feed more people

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Community Farm Connection is developing a broad network of farmers and gardeners who are donating their excess produce to local food banks. The Community Harvest program, now in its second year, is an example of how we can think creatively to solve challenging local issues like reducing hunger.

Hannah Hostetter, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer who is running the gleaning program at the CFC, stopped by the office Tuesday to talk about the significant need to reduce what is called food insecurity — the percentage of people who don't know where their next meal is coming from — by tapping into excess local food that is being discarded. One in four children in Chelan and Douglas counties are identified as food insecure, which is a stunning number. The other relevant statistic is that 40 percent of the food we produce goes to waste, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. So there is plenty of opportunity in an agriculturally rich place like North Central Washington to make a meaningful improvement in feeding the hungry by reducing how much food is wasted.

What the gleaning program does is build a sense of community around being more efficient with local food and at the same time serving the desire of farmers and gardeners to make the most out of what they grow.

There are two aspects of the gleaning program. Farmers allow teams of volunteers to come onto their farms and harvest leftover food and local gardeners are encouraged to plant an extra row of produce. That extra produce is delivered to local food banks which desperately need it to help feed the hungry in our community.

Besides Community Harvest, CFC also runs a Farm-to-Chef program to bring local food into restaurants, a grocery store at 10 N. Mission Street in Wenatchee, and a subscription-based Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. It's an organization that is making a strong connection between consumers, chefs and local farmers. As the gleaning program develops, there's no reason we can't make a serious dent in reducing hunger in North Central Washington.

To see my video interview with Hostetter, please click on the link below.

Interview with Hostetter