Gleaning Food, Feeding Seniors

In debates about food security and food justice, someone inevitably brings up this point: There’s so much food that goes to waste that could instead be used to feed the hungry. It’s a huge distribution issue.

But how to save all that unwanted food from the compost bin, and instead get it to land on plates?

Turns out, all we need are groups like the nonprofit Neighborhood Gleaners, a volunteer-run program that collects excess farmer’s market food items and redistributes them to low income seniors. The program is a branch of the Hollywood Senior Center, a group that serves the needs of older Portland adults through a variety of activities and programs, including gleaning. It was founded in 2005, and has continued gleaning to feed the community ever since.

The Neighborhood Gleaners gather thousands of pounds of food items and produce from farmer’s markets, then distribute them through the Belmont Street Meals on Wheels location or through their own meal programs. Part of the gleaned produced is cooked on the organization’s own site, by doing so reaching seniors that no longer cook for themselves. They gather between 20 to 30-thousand pounds of food very year, all of which is given to low-income seniors.

This week we featured Neighborhood Gleaners as part of our award-winning Community Voices series. You can listen to interviews held with key members of the organization, posted below.

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