The Agricultural Program is our signature program impacting over 60,000 individuals annually who receive food directly from us and through an extended distribution partnership with FeedMore and Virginia Peninsula Food Bank. Providing fresh produce as a mainstay of food distributed to clients will increase the nutritional value of food received, establish a new normalcy for produce as an essential part of the food distribution system, and be more financially sustainable for food banks. We provide 40% fresh produce to clients in our service area and exceeded that amount to 45% in 2016.
One major area of food waste in America is in farmers’ fields, where crops that don’t meet top-grade quality are left to rot or be plowed under. Gleaning is the traditional biblical practice of gathering crops that would otherwise be left in the fields to rot, or be plowed under after harvest. The Northern Neck Food Bank collaborates with our local farmers and growers, coordinates with 32 pantries and feeding sites to salvage this food for our local residents in Essex, Lancaster, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond & Westmoreland Counties.
The biblical mandate comes from the Hebrew scriptures in Deuteronomy 24:19: When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all your undertakings.
Farmers donate food, volunteers work, donors provide funds for transportation, the Northern Neck Food Bank collects and delivers the food and our partnering pantries distribute the food to our clients in their time of need.
Hundreds of volunteers locally and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia join the Northern Neck Food Bank by investing in our communities for gleaning activities from July through December of each year. Each year, thousands of pounds of produce are salvaged and provided to our 32 partnering pantries and feeding sites to provide our clients with nutritional, fresh and healthy local produce at no cost to them. Gleaners are people of all ages and income levels who want to give of themselves. Usually within 48 hours of picking the produce, hungry local residents receive the gleaned food.
Typically Gleaning takes place in Lancaster, Hague and Westmoreland. Volunteers are needed. Contact Kathy Bergeron or Mark Kleinschmidt on 804-577-0246 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.