Farmers, volunteers "glean the fields" to help food banks

By: Shalah Sasse Email
By: Shalah Sasse Email

News 12 This Morning, March 6, 2009

GILBERT, SC-- Giving back is something Charles Jumper lives for. Charles has been farming his whole life. He grows everything from collard greens, rutabagas, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, butter beans, blueberries, and blackberries.

"If you have a talent to produce something and if you have excess, then it's your God-given talent to share that with other people," Charles Jumper said.

And he does just that. A year ago, Charles started giving away some of his crops and working with Society of Saint Andrew- Gleaning America's Fields- Feeding America's Hungry. They're a non-profit organization and their mission is to end hunger.

"That's the great thing about this program is we try to get the food straight to the needs of the people and it's often on the supper table by dinner time," South Carolina Gleaning Coordinator, Debbie Riley said.

Volunteers cut the collard greens, clean them, and pick off any bad leaves.

They'll also take rutabagas. In all Charles gives away 1,000 pounds of food for free.

"A lot of times when I go through the field and I throw down a food product that people can use with just a bad spot on it or a bruise, and it's a shame that it has to go into the garbage or back into the soil, when it can go back to somebody and feed their needs," Jumper said.

He says these are all good products, but they just don't look perfect, and that means 15-20% of his crops are wasted.

"All the farmers have a lot of excess, I mean stuff that they just can't sell because of the over abundant supply or because it's not the perfect type product," Jumper said.

The volunteers will distribute the food throughout Gilbert and take it to a food bank in Columbia. Riley says they've also gleaned fields in Barnwell, Bamburg, and Denmark, and some of that produce has been given to the Golden Harvest Food Bank in Augusta. Riley says their goal is to get more farmers involved from the Aiken and Edgefield area.


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