Senior Gleaning

Greetings from sunny California!

I’ve seen so much food recovery in the last 48 hours that I’m under the impression there’s no food waste in the Golden State. I know I sure didn’t waste anything I ordered at In-N-Out Burger.

img_1009.JPGYesterday, I had the pleasure of volunteering with Senior Gleaners, Inc., of Sacramento. I went out with Eddie Heard, an 81-year-old gent who helps run the field gleaning operations and Pat Barker, 68. We cruised out to the home of a woman who had an abundance of grapes on a few arbors outside her house. She had picked what she’d use–she’s no vintner–and didn’t want the rest to go to ground like figs from her nearby tree.

I’ve done plenty of gleaning, but never the “backyard” variety. Picking concord grapes in the shade isn’t the worst work in the world. In fact, I’d call it downright pleasant, with Eddie and Pat’s stories and a bit of grape and fig refreshment. Toward the end, a persimmon dropped from a tree five feet away. Was this Eden?img_1038.JPG

In a little over an hour of work, we recovered 159 pounds of grapes (eight five-gallon buckets). Plus, Eddie made a quick harvest of the unwanted figs for his personal fruit dehydrator.

Granted, Senior Gleaners only get a fraction of their donations from gleaning, but it was nice to experience their original activity. The rest of their food comes from surplus produce or items that didn’t make the grade at nearby packing plants, damaged boxes of food (everything from cereal to spaghetti) and items at or near their “sell-by” date.

img_1039.JPGPerhaps best of all, they saved three lunches for us, as we’d “labored” right through “chow.” After a hearty plate of meatloaf, potatoes and gravy, with a suspect salad, we went out to weigh our catch and call it a day. On our way out, we passed by the BINGO office. How else do you think the Senior Gleaners fund their operation?

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