Gleaning Sweet Potatoes: Responding to Hunger

by Mollie Mayfield, Public Ally, IFFS Communications Coordinator This Saturday morning, I rode with Lindsay Perry, our Local Produce Coordinator, to ERW farms in Spring Hope, NC to document a field gleaning of sweet potatoes.  Generously, the farmer invited us into his fields to rescue the excess from the harvest, which, in this case, was a lot! The chilly wind drove right through our jackets, but our group of around 80 dedicated volunteers remained undeterred, picking sweet potatoes until the Food Shuttle truck was completely full and loaded.

We gleaned nearly 9,000 pounds of sweet potatoes.  That’s a lot of produce that will now go to feed the hungry instead of just rotting in the fields!

sweet potatoes in the fieldWhen sweet potatoes are harvested for the market, only the ones that fit a specific size and shape requirement are picked. But sweet potato plants produce tubers of all shapes and sizes, and all shapes and sizes can be eaten! Sweet potatoes that have been cut by the tractor or other tools are also left in the fields.  But thanks to our several groups of wonderful, hard-working volunteers, about four and a half tons of sweet potatoes will now be made into tasty, nutritious meals. Not only are sweet potatoes packed with nutrients, but they also store well! This means these sweet potatoes can even be used for our Turkey Take Out program, providing Thanksgiving meals for those who would otherwise go without.

Volunteers hard at work!


The truck full of tasty and nutritious sweet potatoes!

The truck full of tasty and nutritious sweet potatoes!

One of our lovely groups of volunteers from Saint Paul's Church in Hillyer took a minute to talk about why they decided to come out and glean:

Many thanks to ERW Farms and to all of our gleaners! You made a big difference!