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Fruit & vegetable gleaning initiatives

Health Factors: Diet & Exercise
Decision Makers: Community Members Employers & Businesses Local Government State Government Nonprofit Leaders
Evidence Rating: Expert Opinion
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

Fruit and vegetable gleaning or field gleaning initiatives gather food left in fields after the primary harvest or food in fields where harvesting is not profitable. These initiatives can also collect food after farmers’ markets or farm stands close, or excess produce from farms, orchards, or packing houses. Urban gleaning initiatives gather excess produce from registered fruit trees, community, school, and backyard gardens, or other urban agriculture sites. Most gleaning initiatives rely on volunteers to harvest, pick up, sort, and deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks, churches, mobile food pantries, and other community organizations that help distribute the produce to families with low incomes. Some participating farms use cull bins while harvesting to set aside non-marketable produce for donation (USDA-Food recovery, CCFP-Owen 2011).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Increased consumption of healthy foods
Improved dietary habits
Reduced obesity rates
Improved nutrition
Increased food security

Evidence of Effectiveness

Fruit and vegetable gleaning initiatives are a suggested strategy to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables and improve eating habits, especially for families with low incomes (USDA-Food recovery, Hampl 2005, Hoisington 2001). Such initiatives are also a suggested strategy to prevent childhood obesity by increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables (CCFP-Owen 2011). Gleaning initiatives may improve nutrition (Hampl 2005) and support community food security, although effects may be larger among larger scale or more intensive operations (Vitiello 2014). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Every year, approximately 7% of planted fields in the US are not harvested, although this number varies widely, occasionally reaching as much as 50% for a particular crop (NRDC-Gunders 2012). Gleaning initiatives effectively harvest this produce; in 2011, for example, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) gleaned 900,000 pounds for the Feds Feed Families Food Drive (USDA-Food recovery). 

Implementation

United States

A 2011 national survey of food banks reports 115 organizations with local agriculture programs, including 73 gleaning programs (Vitiello 2014). The Society of St. Andrew Gleaning Network, for example, gleans over 20 million pounds of food annually and operates in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia (SOSA-Gleaning). The California Association of Food Banks' Farm to Family program is the largest gleaning program in the nation; it distributed 150 million pounds of produce to 43 food banks in 2015 (CA AFB-Farm to family).

Statewide gleaning projects also glean millions of pounds of produce each year. For example, the Arkansas Gleaning Project (AHRA-AGP), the Arizona Statewide Gleaning Project (AAFB-ASGP), and Oregon Food Bank’s gleaning program (OFB-Gleaning). Some states offer growers a tax credit for donations of excess produce to state-sponsored food banks, as in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Oregon (NRDC-Gunders 2012).

Regional non-profit organizations can run gleaning programs with food banks, churches, and other community partners. Examples of such partnerships include the Mid-Atlantic Gleaning Network, which provides over 8 million pounds of fresh produce annually in the Washington DC area (MAGNET-Gleaning), and FRESHFARM Markets which gleans throughout the Chesapeake Bay region (FRESHFARM-Gleaning). Many local gleaning initiatives glean thousands of pounds of produce, as in Humboldt County, CA (FFP-Gleaning). Gleaning initiatives can also supply fresh produce to schools in low income areas; for example, Ag Against Hunger supplies leafy greens and fresh fruit for school salad bars via the More Produce in Schools Program (AAH-Gleaning).

Urban gleaning initiatives are underway in many cities, for example, San Francisco, CA (SF DPW-Urban gleaning); San Jose, CA (VH-Gleaning); Washington DC (BFTC-Glean); Springfield, MO (OFH-Glean team); Grand Rapids, MI (HGI-Gleaning); Salt Lake City, UT (SLCgreen-Fruit gleaning); and Portland, OR (PFTP-Harvest). 

Wisconsin

There are several organizations supporting gleaning initiatives throughout Wisconsin, for example Glean Central Wisconsin (GCW-Second harvest), Community Action Coalition Gleaners in South Central Wisconsin (CACSCW-Gleaners), and Gleaned Food Project of Southwest Wisconsin (Everybody Works-Gleaning). There are also urban gleaning initiatives gathering produce from registered and mapped fruits trees, as in Milwaukee (Glean Milwaukee-Fruit trees).

Implementation Resources

Gardening Matters-Toolkit - Gardening Matters, The Garden Gleaning Project. Garden gleaning: A toolkit for growers and food shelves. Accessed on April 6, 2016
Northwest Harvest-Martin 2014 - Martin K, Morales T. Growing connections: A resource guide for farm-to-food bank strategies. Seattle: Northwest Harvest; 2014. Accessed on March 4, 2016
UFF-Urban gleaning - Urban Food Forestry (UFF). Urban food forestry initiatives: Archive for urban gleaning and free resources. Accessed on March 4, 2016
USDA-Gleaning toolkit - US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Let's glean! United we serve toolkit. Accessed on February 16, 2017

Citations - Description

CCFP-Owen 2011 - Owen J, Rosch J, Smith S. Preventing childhood obesity: Policy and practice strategies for North Carolina. Durham: Center for Child & Family Policy (CCFP), Duke University; 2011. Accessed on March 4, 2016
USDA-Food recovery - US Department of Agriculture (USDA). US food waste challenge: Food recovery/donations. Accessed on February 6, 2017

Citations - Evidence

CCFP-Owen 2011 - Owen J, Rosch J, Smith S. Preventing childhood obesity: Policy and practice strategies for North Carolina. Durham: Center for Child & Family Policy (CCFP), Duke University; 2011. Accessed on March 4, 2016
Hampl 2005* - Hampl JS, Levinson SL, Garcia LW, Johnston CS. Project GLEAN: Evaluation of a school-based, gleaned-food distribution project. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture. 2005;25(2):5-15. Accessed on March 4, 2016
Hoisington 2001* - Hoisington A, Butkus SN, Garrett S, Beerman K. Field gleaning as a tool for addressing food security at the local level: Case study. Journal of Nutrition Education. 2001;33(1):43-48. Accessed on March 4, 2016
NRDC-Gunders 2012 - Gunders D. Wasted: How America is losing up to 40 percent of its food from farm to fork to landfill. New York City: National Resources Defense Council; 2012. Accessed on March 4, 2016
USDA-Food recovery - US Department of Agriculture (USDA). US food waste challenge: Food recovery/donations. Accessed on February 6, 2017
Vitiello 2014* - Vitiello D, Grisso JA, Whiteside KL, Fischman R. From commodity surplus to food justice: Food banks and local agriculture in the United States. Agriculture and Human Values. 2014. Accessed on March 4, 2016

Citations - Implementation

AAFB-ASGP - Association of Arizona Food Banks (AAFB). Arizona statewide gleaning project (ASGP). Accessed on March 4, 2016
AAH-Gleaning - Ag Against Hunger (AAH). Agricultural community feeds the hungry through gleaning and harvesting. Accessed on March 31, 2016
AHRA-AGP - Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance (AHRA). Arkansas gleaning project (AGP). Accessed on March 4, 2016
BFTC-Glean - Bread for the City (BFTC). Glean for the City: A project of Bread for the City. Accessed on March 4, 2016
CA AFB-Farm to family - California Association of Food Banks (CA AFB). Farm to family: Alleviating hunger and improving nutrition. Accessed on March 30, 2016
CACSCW-Gleaners - Community Action Coalition for South Central Wisconsin (CACSCW). CAC Gleaners perishable food recovery program. Accessed on March 4, 2016
Everybody Works-Gleaning - Everybody Works! Gleaning project: Gleaned food project of Southwest WI. Accessed on March 3, 2016
FFP-Gleaning - Food for People (FFP). The food bank for Humboldt County: Gleaning program. Accessed on March 4, 2016
FRESHFARM-Gleaning - FRESHFARM Markets. Our gleaning partners. Accessed on March 4, 2016
GCW-Second harvest - Glean Central Wisconsin (GCW). Gleaning resources: Exploring the power of second harvest to fight hunger and waste. Accessed on March 4, 2016
Glean Milwaukee-Fruit trees - Glean Milwaukee. City-Community harvesting & sharing fruit: Register a tree, scout trees, pick fruit. Accessed on March 4, 2016
HGI-Gleaning - Heartside Gleaning Initiative (HGI). Gleaning in the Heartside neighborhood Grand Rapids, Michigan. Accessed on March 4, 2016
MAGNET-Gleaning - Mid-Atlantic Gleaning Network (MAGNET). Fighting hunger by harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables from farms and orchards. Accessed on March 3, 2016
NRDC-Gunders 2012 - Gunders D. Wasted: How America is losing up to 40 percent of its food from farm to fork to landfill. New York City: National Resources Defense Council; 2012. Accessed on March 4, 2016
OFB-Gleaning - Oregon Food Bank (OFB). Gleaning: A history of gleaning in Oregon. Accessed on March 4, 2016
OFH-Glean team - Ozarks Food Harvest (OFH). New "Glean Team" part of OFH's goal to distribute more healthy food to area pantries. Accessed on March 4, 2016
PFTP-Harvest - Portland Fruit Tree Project (PFTP). Share in the harvest: Harvest programs. Accessed on March 4, 2016
SF DPW-Urban gleaning - San Francisco Department of Public Works (SF DPW). Urban gleaning program: Gather and give back to the community. Accessed on March 4, 2016
SLCgreen-Fruit gleaning - Salt Lake City Green (SLCgreen). Eat local: Share your fruit with Salt Lake City's fruit gleaning program. Register your tree. Accessed on March 4, 2016
SOSA-Gleaning - Society of St. Andrew (SOSA). The gleaning network: Gleaning America's fields feeding America's hungry. Accessed on March 4, 2016
VH-Gleaning - Village Harvest (VH). Sharing our gardens, gleaning, and teaching to strengthen our community. Accessed on March 30, 2016
Vitiello 2014* - Vitiello D, Grisso JA, Whiteside KL, Fischman R. From commodity surplus to food justice: Food banks and local agriculture in the United States. Agriculture and Human Values. 2014. Accessed on March 4, 2016

Page Last Updated

March 31, 2016

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