Gleaning for the Cycle

Mike Elmore, Florida Program Coordinator

Mike Elmore, Florida Program Coordinator

by Mike Elmore, SoSA’s program coordinator for Florida

Gleaning is different in Florida – our harvest season starts when others are scraping ice off cars and shoveling driveways. We can’t glean past noon due to the humidity and the 100% chance of afternoon rain. And we face the late summer/early autumn succession of Atlantic-borne hurricanes, each threatening to drown our susceptible peninsula.

In the year I’ve worked in the Florida office, I’ve gleaned at nearly every Floridian latitude from north to south. I’ve gleaned in the sticky heat and pouring rain, in fields abundant and sparse, with volunteers from young to old.

But last month, I participated in a two-day event that would be special for any gleaner — completing the full cycle of food recovery, distribution, and meal preparation. This event was coordinated by the Department of Agriculture and included collaboration with SoSA, CROS Ministries, Lighthouse Café, and Heritage/Roth Farms.

Food recovery took place on a Tuesday morning in Belle Glade, Florida. We gleaned for a little over an hour, gathering cabbage, and romaine and iceberg lettuce. Then we stopped at Heritage Farms to pick up 40 pounds of radishes.

Distribution happened that afternoon. The Lighthouse Café kitchen is at the bottom of a project building in the center of a neighborhood that desperately needs a facelift – stray cats and wild chickens acting as unofficial mascots. We unloaded our produce, as well as cucumbers and tomatoes that our South Florida partner, Keith, had gleaned from the coast earlier. After thorough washing, cutting, and dicing, everything was separated into containers for the next day.

Meal preparation was scheduled for the next morning. We arrived at Lighthouse Café to find the kitchen staff already cooking ham that they provided, and Chef Paula (from the Dept. of Agriculture) working with a well-primed oven. We unwrapped salads, set up the serving lines, and prepared for about 130 clients to arrive at 11:30.

Then came a food prep demonstration. As the clients arrived, we handed out sets of measuring cups and recipe cards for all of the dishes created with our gleaned veggies. Everyone was very gracious and seemed to love all the food. They watched the demo as they ate, and the recipes were fairly easy to make with materials they had at home.

It was great to experience the entire cycle firsthand. Gleaners normally don’t see the process after we drop off food at a feeding agency. Collaborating with other private entities and the state of Florida for this project demonstrated how much effort goes into the big picture of food rescue, distribution, preparation, and meals provided directly to those in need. We plan to do more of these events with agencies and hungry people all over the state.


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In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

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