Going Bananas? Yes, Thank You!

By Jean Blish Siers *

36,000 pounds of bananas await distribution at Loaves and Fishes warehouse.

36,000 pounds of bananas await distribution at Loaves and Fishes warehouse.

Here’s something I’ve learned after four years of working with Society of St. Andrew: If someone calls on Monday morning with 18 tons of bananas that need to get dropped somewhere by Monday afternoon, say, “Yes, thank you!” and then get busy finding ministries all over the area that will get them out to people whose diet will be greatly enriched by fresh fruit.

That’s what happened a couple weeks ago. After a busy weekend (two Saturday gleanings that included 50 volunteers, a ton of grapes, a half-ton of corn, and more than two tons of watermelon; and a Sunday dinner program at our local Presbytery celebrating their Hunger Action Teams,) my phone rang. Chiquita had sent a double order of bananas to a local store. The driver needed to get into Charlotte, empty his load, and pick up another load by evening. The local food bank couldn’t handle the truck that day. So Chiquita found their way to Society of St. Andrew.

Shoon Ledyard loads a truck

Shoon Ledyard loads a truck

We are lucky in Charlotte to have a great working relationship with Loaves and Fishes, which operates 19 food pantries throughout the county. They offered the use of their forklifts and warehouse to unload and store the fruit until I could get trucks there to distribute them.

In two days, more than a dozen trucks pulled into Loaves and Fishes and were loaded with perfect, lovely bananas. Each box weighed 40 pounds, and each pallet held 48 boxes, stacked more than six-feet high. Some trucks took a couple dozen boxes. Some took a whole pallet load. One driver brought a box truck from the North Carolina mountains and took nine pallets back to this mostly rural area where poverty is high and fresh fruit scarce.

Max Falk is ready to deliver a load.

Max Falk is ready to deliver a load.

On Wednesday afternoon, I called my contact at Chiquita to thank him and to let him know that all the produce found good homes. He said that these kinds of things happen regularly, and too often the driver ends up dumping the whole load in a landfill because he has to pick up another load to stay on schedule. I was able to tell him the bananas that would have been wasted found their way to at least eight counties around Charlotte. People called and texted me for days, telling me how happy the recipients were to receive something fresh and nutritious.

Harvest is a busy time. September days are full of gleanings of grapes and watermelons and corn, of tomatoes and sweet potatoes. These local crops are fantastic and they feed the people in my area well. But when someone offers something as crazy as a truckload of bananas, I say, “Yes, thank you!”

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator.

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VOLUNTEER WAIVER

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.