Fields gleaned of leftovers for the needy

MIDDLEBURY — The poverty-fighting group Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects is again this fall organizing the harvest of surplus food from local producers and distributing what is gleaned to those in need.
Lily Bradburn is local food access coordinator with Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE). At Tuesday’s meeting of the Addison County Hunger Council she said the nonprofit has thus far gleaned around 12,000 pounds of donated, fresh food, and is still harvesting surplus produce, eggs and apples from farms and orchards throughout the county.
That fresh food is being offered to hungry households. Fresh food that isn’t quickly snapped up is being processed into soups and/or frozen to give low-income residents some healthy options this winter.
HOPE officials have been holding cooking classes to teach clients how to make nutritious meals, emphasizing spices — as opposed to salt — to enhance flavors.
Bradburn and her helpers deliver the food to HOPE’s food shelf and to a network of 19 sites, including summer meal programs, teen centers and senior housing.
Middlebury College athletes on Sept. 27 will help HOPE with a massive apple glean at participating orchards that have more than enough fruit to take to the market.
While gleaning efforts have been successful, Bradburn said “this has probably been one of the worst summers for non-perishable donations” to HOPE. She cited a particular shortage of canned beans, pastas and juices.
“This is a tough time of the year for food shelves,” Bradburn said, noting community food drives won’t kick in until later this fall.

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