Waste Not: After the Harvest is Rescuing Produce Across the Midwest

From foodtank.com by Sarah Small
Waste Not: After the Harvest is Rescuing Produce Across the Midwest

To fight hunger in Missouri and Kansas, After the Harvest recovers fruits and vegetables from farms and stores where they are not fit to be sold. They then distribute the rescued food to agencies where it feeds people in need. This year, the organization aims to distribute 3.3 million pounds of produce.

Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Lisa Ousley, Executive Director of After the Harvest.

Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?

Lisa Ousley (LO): After the Harvest fights hunger and food waste by rescuing fresh produce that would otherwise be wasted and distributing it to agencies that feed the hungry. We improve the diet, nutrition, and long-term health outcomes of people struggling with poverty and hunger while at the same time, reducing the unnecessary waste of good food.

FT: What is a project, program, or result you are most proud of?

LO: Through our Gleaning Network, we work with local and regional farmers and growers to glean their fields and orchards after harvest. With the help of thousands of volunteers each year, we pick everything from apples to zucchini, blueberries to watermelon. We pick, pack, and deliver wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and food banks that distribute this nourishing food to their clients.

FT: What are your goals for 2015 and beyond?

LO: We have set a goal to provide 3.3 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables in 2015. In future years, we will work to institutionalize gleaning as a part of good agricultural practices in the Midwest. We believe that it is a shame to have hungry people in a country blessed by such abundance.

FT: In one sentence, what is the most important thing eaters and consumers can do today to support a more sustainable food system?

LO: If eaters and consumers would eat more fresh, locally grown produce and waste less food, we could decrease the carbon footprint of our food and reduce the third largest producer of greenhouse gasses (rotting food).

FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?

LO: To get involved, join our Gleaning Network. Help us glean fresh fruits and vegetables and deliver them to agencies and food banks to feed hungry people. You can support us financially.  We work with commercial growers and packers to secure large truckloads of donated fresh produce, for which we pay packaging and freight costs. Your donation can help us cover these costs. You can also help us spread the word about our work through your networks of friends and colleagues.

Download the 2014 Good Food Org Guide HERE.

Submit your suggestions for the 2015 guide HERE.

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