Volunteer gleaners in cooperation with donor farmers have collected a variety of fresh vegetables to help food banks and soup kitchens in Chatham-Kent. (Photo by Simon Crouch)

Farms And Gleaners Feeding Hungry

A number of farmers who are willing to donate surplus vegetables are having an impact on food banks in Chatham-Kent with the help of volunteer gleaners.
The volunteers have been harvesting sweet corn, cucumbers and other crops which are distributed to organisations that feed those in need.
Captain Stephanie Watkinson with the Salvation Army in Chatham says it is a great source of healthy food.
“It means that they have vegetables to eat, the ones that access our food bank would normally only get canned vegetables which is great if you have nothing else,” she says. “The fresh locally grown food is just flying out of our doors we can’t keep it in stock.”
The volunteers took part in training sessions by the local health unit to ensure they understand lifting techniques, food handling, and dealing with hot weather.
Gleaning expeditions are by appointment and accompanied by health unit officials so farmers are assured people taking part won’t randomly visit their fields and harvest the wrong crop.
She says people served by food banks and soup kitchens appreciate the additions to their diets.
“The corn that we’ve been harvesting the last few weeks has been awesome and we keep it for maybe a day after we harvest because they want it so much.”
A farmer donating corn planted at various times over a number of weeks and expects to be able to continue donating into September.
Officials with the Chatham-Kent Health Unit are hoping more farmers will step up and donate.
They say once contract with processing plants are fulfilled extra produce would be welcome

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Captain Stephanie Watkinson with the Salvation Army in Chatham says it is a great source of healthy food.

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Watkinson says the food bank clients appreciate the chance to get fresh vegetables they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

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Several farmers are making donations, but Watkinson says more would be nice because the produce doesn’t last long.