Inter-Faith Food Shuttle held its 7th annual "Turkey Takeout" event Thursday, Nov.21st to distribute turkeys, fresh produce, bread, and pies to partner agencies and pantries for families in need this Thanksgiving. Food was donated by U.S. Foods, Ford's Produce, FarmPak, and other food donors, as well as gleaned from farmers' fields by Inter-Faith Food Shuttle volunteers.
September is Hunger Action Month. Learn how volunteers help us SQUASH HUNGER every day. Volunteers Bob and Michelle show how they glean produce that otherwise would have rotted in the field and get it into the hands of our neighbors in need.
We're always looking for groups and individuals to help us glean local farmers fields. The idea is simple. Farmers call us when they have extra crops. We bring a farmer-trained volunteer crew, gather the produce, and distribute it to people in need in our seven-county area. Anyone can volunteer at a Field Gleaning. It's a wonderful way to connect, and you can easily make a big difference for our less fortunate neighbors.
AND, we need volunteers to drive trucks to and from gleanings, and on our daily food rescue and food distribution routes!
Sign up to volunteer today, and help us SQUASH HUNGER!
Reflections from a summer spent gleaning, from our pun-loving Field Gleaning Intern Michelle Madeley This summer, I interned with the Field Gleaning Program at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. I helped out as a field supervisor once a week and spent additional time developing training materials. As a graduate student interested in access to healthy foods, working with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle was an incredible experience in learning about non-profit solutions to systemic societal issues like hunger in the U.S.
Gleaning addresses the twin problems of food insecurity and food waste by working with local farmers who have additional crops (due to extra planting, experimentation, crops being ready too early, or crops not looking "market-ready" but still being nutritious and delicious). IFFS brings crews of volunteers out to the fields that farmers donate and we harvest various crops, always working to fill the truck to the brim!
In one instance, the farmer even drove up on a tractor, disc attached, just as we were wrapping up. He asked if we got all that we needed, and I told him that we were indeed done and thankful for all that he contributed! He said, "Great. I'm going to disc up that field now." By the time we were all packed up, he was already getting started tilling in the onion field from which we had just harvested hundreds of pounds of quality onions. So, it was quite a literal example of gleaning healthy, viable food, that would have otherwise gone to waste (or into the soil) if we had not been there!
Beyond the sheer volume of fresh, healthy food we helped redistribute, I was most excited about the community I felt a part of. The people I met and worked with made the experience of interning with the Food Shuttle so rewarding. I will definitely take these memories and lessons with me, and come back to volunteer with the Food Shuttle as often as possible.
Some of the highlights:
Befriending volunteers.It was especially cool to get to know new people from all age groups. I got to work with groups of middle school volunteers from mission groups, families with kids of all ages, retirees, as well as peers. I feel lucky to have met so many great people!
The big laughs and friendly conversations. I'm way into laughing, and every Tuesday that I was out in the field, there were a lot of serious and silly conversations that generated belly laughs resonating across the rows of collard greens or squash plants.
The team spirit. Every Tuesday, I helped facilitate a gleaning in a new field, with a different crop, and a totally new group of people. We always had the same set of tools, but with the different variables, we approached the fields differently each week. Sometimes, people would pair up and discover more efficient harvesting and loading techniques. Sometimes, people would volunteer to rotate loading and harvesting. People helped remind each other about which row they had been harvesting corn from, or offered to carry heavy buckets. There was always a real sense of teamwork and with that comes new and creative problem-solving.
And even the inevitable challenges. I found myself saying, "Every week there is an adventure" because it was true! We got stuck in the mud! We couldn't figure out how to fill the truck with diesel! We couldn't find the field! We didn't bring the right equipment! We found ourselves in fields that had been flooded and found every step we would sink into mud! As I think about these obstacles, I consider them all reminders about flexibility and adaptability. In the end, none of these challenges stopped us or even really slowed us down. We asked for help or we made do with what we had. It's a great testament to the spirit of volunteers and a can-do attitude. Thanks for everything Michelle! We’re excited to see where your journey will take you next. Come back any time!
“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
-- Martin Luther King Jr.
This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is hosting several groups and individuals who are donating their time for a Day of Service. While we host volunteers every day, this Monday, volunteers will arrive with a certain goal in mind: honoring the legacy of one of nation’s greatest leaders and activists. As part of United Way of the Greater Triangle's 8th Annual Triangle Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, they'll be riding on our refrigerated food recovery and distribution trucks, picking up good donated food and bringing into communities where it can get into the hands of those who need it. Others spent Saturday's National Day of Service gleaning collards from local farms to distribute to our neighbors in need. Still more volunteers will be getting their hands dirty on the farm today and packing BackPacks full of nutritious food for children in need. All will be working towards a more just nation where everyone has enough to eat!
On the IFFS Teaching Farm, we will host a group of nineteen 4th and 5th graders from First Presbyterian church, who will be spending their first Day of Service of Martin Luther King Jr., Day learning about where their food comes from and helping us produce fresh, local, nutritious food for the community.
The IFFS BackPack Buddies program will also be teaming up with Marbles Kid’s Museum again for a special service event from 10am-1pm. Children and adults who are visiting the museum that day can participate by packing backpacks full of healthy and nutritious item to feed children in need on the weekends.
"I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Find out more about volunteering with us on our website here, and carry your commitment to service throughout the year!