Senior Gleaners Of San Diego Mark 25 Years With San Diego Expansion - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

Senior Gleaners Of San Diego Mark 25 Years With San Diego Expansion

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Posted: Friday, July 5, 2019 10:24 am

The Senior Gleaners of San Diego County is observing its 25th anniversary of food recovery with expansion of services into South San Diego communities, including Chula Vista and Coronado.

What’s a gleaner? For centuries, gleaners have collected food that would otherwise be wasted to feed the hungry. The term originates from the practice of landowners leaving portions of their fields or crops for the poor to harvest to feed their families.

Crews of volunteers have started picking fruit in Chula Vista, Coronado and Imperial Beach will also travel to serve nearby communities. They are joining four other crews of volunteers ages 55 or more that cover other geographic areas of the county.

Residents in the South San Diego region with fruit to spare should contact Senior Gleaners 2-3 weeks before expected ripeness of their crop, according to Karen Clay, Gleaners general manager.

Donating fruit saves residents the work of picking and disposing of extra fruit. Donors receive a receipt for tax deduction purposes. To schedule a crew of Senior Gleaners, call 619-633-9180 or e-mail: SDGleaners@aol.com. Visit the Web site at: www.seniorgleanerssdco.org.

Along with donations of fruit to be picked, the organization needs volunteers to assist with collection and transportation, Clay reported. They are seeking volunteers to drive Gleaner vans or their own vehicles capable of hauling at least 300 pounds. Most trips would be 20-30 miles from picking sites to warehouses or food pantries that distribute food to hungry people. Most gleaners volunteer 3-4 hours one day per week, but there are no required minimum commitments.

Since 1994, Senior Gleaners volunteers have gleaned an estimated 7.5 million pounds of produce throughout the county. Besides gleaning produce, the group daily collects unsold products donated by grocers. All the food is provided at no cost to the San Diego Food Bank and similar organizations. In 2018, the group collected more than 280,000 pounds of food that would have otherwise been wasted. Volunteers worked almost 8,000 hours—recovering 36 pounds per hour volunteered.

While gleaning groups and related organizations collect tons of food, they recover only a small percentage of the potential, according to Senior Gleaners Board President Monte Turner. “In our county alone, at least 500,000 tons of food is wasted annually, adding 18 percent to landfill volumes, while 500,000 people live in poverty,” he said.

“Rather than compost edible food or dump it in landfills where it creates harmful methane gas, it makes more sense to support groups like gleaners that will get the food to people who need it,” Turner said.

Turner noted that groups listed on the Website work with donors who have only a couple of backyard trees, homeowners with small orchards and farmers with hundreds of trees.

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