Potatoes distributed throughout UNY
November 19, 2019 / By Betty Houg and Crystal Dauback
Editor’s Note: This past fall, The Society of St. Andrew with the help of over 100 volunteers distributed well over 150,000 pounds of potatoes throughout Upper New York with potato drops at Rose UMC, Endwell UMC, Boonville UMC, and the UNY United Methodist Center. Each location had 35,000-50,000 potatoes picked up by food pantries, churches, community organizations, families, and individuals. Below is a story of Boonville UMC’s involvement with the Society St. Andrews Potato Project and information about the organization and how potatoes are collected.
Forty-five thousand pounds or 900 50 lb. bags – all free. They arrived on Saturday, October 26 at the Boonville United Methodist Church. For several years now, the Boonville United Methodist Church has been a distribution point for Southern Lewis/Northern Oneida counties in this Potato Drop Project. Sign-up for these free potatoes took place through local Methodist churches. The United Methodist Men’s group has been instrumental in bringing this project to this area. According to Crystal Dauback, Administrative Assistant of the Boonville United Methodist Church, 100 bags were for Boonville Helping Hands Food Pantry, other local food pantries, and for individuals and families.
Where do they come from? They are all free and all handling is done by volunteers. The Society of St. Andrew was formed in 1979 as an intentional community of two families called to life and ministry together in Christ. It has grown into an ecumenical, non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to leading others into lives of Christian community and service. Since its founding in 1979, their mission is to introduce people to God’s grace through meeting their hungers. Food for the body is one of them. Since 1983, the Society has salvaged fresh, nutritious produce from American farms – produce that otherwise would be left to rot – and delivered it to agencies across the nation that serve the poor. This produce is done through “the Gleaning Network.” One major area of food waste in America is in farmers’ fields, where crops that don’t meet top-grade quality are left to rot or to be plowed under. ‘Gleaning’ is the traditional biblical practice of gathering crops that would otherwise be left in the fields to be plowed under after harvest. The Gleaning Network coordinates volunteers, growers, and distribution agencies to salvage this food for the needy. Tens of thousands of volunteers from churches, synagogues, scout troops, senior citizen groups, and other organizations participate each year in the Society of St. Andrew gleaning activities. Each year, tens of millions of pounds of produce are salvaged and given to the poor at no cost to them or to the food pantry/soup kitchen that feeds them.
Gleaners are people of all ages and income levels who want to give of themselves. Usually within 48 hours of picking the produce, hungry Americans receive the gleaned food. Each year, 35,000 – 40,000 people glean with the Society – to pick up over 20 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food for their hungry neighbors.
The Gleaning Network is an extremely successful and cost effect program because it is volunteer-driven and biblically based. Farmers donate food, volunteers work the fields, donors provide funds for transportation, and feeding agencies distribute the food. By relying on these people and coordinating their efforts, costs are kept to just 2.4 cents per serving of gleaned food. Click here for more information regarding this program.
Gleaning America’s Fields – Feeding America’s Hungry – that is what the Society of St. Andrew does. They do it simply, do it more effectively and far more efficiently than any other hunger relief organization. And the Boonville United Methodist Church is happy to be a part of this free food supply.