Summer is here, and with it the brilliantly colored jewels of the season — the soft green of baby lettuce leaves, the dark green of curly kale, the creamy orange-yellow of perfectly ripened cantaloupe and the deep purple of plump, juicy blackberries. The smells are just as vivid and the flavors bring back memories of joy and satisfaction. Farm-fresh fruits and veggies are treasures we grow and pick and seek out during this time of year.
This food that brings so much joy is also crucial to our long-term good health. It is both sad and wrong then, that so many people miss out on these pleasures and treasures because they cannot afford them. If you price them in a farmers market or grocery store, fresh fruits and vegetables are often too costly for those struggling below the poverty line to afford on a regular basis. When a parent must choose between volume and nutrient value, volume too often wins out.
In Missouri and Kansas, After the Harvest is working to change that pattern. After the Harvest is a hunger-relief organization dedicated to rescuing fresh produce that is destined to be wasted, and instead distribute it to pantries and food banks that serve people struggling with hunger and poverty. We work with produce partners to get excess and unmarketable fresh fruits and vegetables, which we deliver to agencies and food banks that serve many throughout the community.
After the Harvest also engages volunteers to glean local and regional farm fields and orchards after they have been harvested, to gather fruits and vegetables left behind by harvesting equipment and field hands. These are locally grown, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables that taste delicious and are so nutritious, but were either accidentally missed during the harvest, or were deemed to small, too large, or in some way less than perfect.
After the Harvest opened its doors in May 2014, and in its first seven months of operation provided more than 1.5 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for hungry people in Missouri and Kansas, chiefly in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. We have begun the 2015 gleaning season and have set a goal of 3.3 million pounds for 2015. We are grateful for the support of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and eager to work with them and other partners in the Kansas City area to make a significant and lasting impact on the health of area residents who struggle with poverty and hunger on a regular basis.
We invite all to join us in fighting hunger with fresh produce. Come and glean with us. To learn more, go to www.aftertheharvestkc.org.
This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.