The Conditions Were Perfect

“The conditions were perfect” … not what you’d expect to hear from your friends in the Midwest, in January. And in truth, it was snowing and not ideal weather for gleaning the fields. But Ann would not be discouraged.

She had recently learned that many apple orchards keep harvested apples in refrigerated storage over the winter. This can occasionally lead to apples being unsold and wasted. Ann wanted to make sure no apple was left behind when there were so many hungry people in her community..

She sent flyers to farmers explaining that SoSA volunteers could glean fields in warm weather, but they’d also be glad to glean refrigerated warehouses when the weather outside wasn’t quite so warm. One farmer responded to the flyer with an invitation to come immediately — he had several large wooden bins of apples that weren’t being sold and would likely soon go to waste.

Ann picked up her trusty phone and started making calls. On short notice, she found a few friends and acquaintances who were able to help. She even connected with an organization serving homeless veterans and a volunteer group looking for a service opportunity!

Knowing this would be a cold storage facility, the hearty group of six volunteers dressed very warmly. The 40 degree temperature in the warehouse was a relief, because outside, with the polar vortex weather system overhead, the temperature was hovering in the low teens.

They began sorting the apples into categories: “ready to eat,” “need to be cooked,” and “not fit to eat.” The farmer had a plan for the inedible apples, but the rest Ann and her group would bag and give to nearby agencies serving hungry people.

In barely 90 minutes, Ann and her friends finished the job, having sorted more than 1,500 pounds of apples!

Don’t know what a pound of apples looks like? Who does, really? We can thank the internet for this perfect article: “What 1 Pound of Apples Looks Like.” That article would say those 1,500 pounds provided 4,500 servings of fresh fruit for people struggling with homelessness and food insecurity that cold wintry day. Talk about a few volunteers making a huge impact!

The majority of the “need to be cooked” apples went to the homeless veterans organization because they cook a daily hot meal for their clients. The “ready to eat” apples were shared with a nearby church food pantry, where they were given away, within two days, to local individuals and families.

That’s quite a story! In less than two hours, in a polar vortex, this small group of volunteers rescued an estimated 4,500 servings of apples to feed homeless veterans and struggling families in their community.

Imagine what YOU could do with 90 minutes and a can-do attitude! SoSA would love to connect you with opportunities just like this one to help feed people in your community. To volunteer and join the mission to end hunger, go to this page and fill out the form. You’ll hear from us!

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