What Trash Reduction Brings to the Table

Many citizens are unaware of the shocking amount of food wasted in our nation, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimate 30-40% of our total food supply ends up as garbage. However, this goes beyond being solely a national issue, but one that fuels global environmental and ethical concern. It’s difficult to conceptualize the global problem of food waste living in a developed nation where we produce 150% food needed to feed our country. Despite the amount of food available 1 in 7 people face hunger here, and bear in mind these are all conservative figures.

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To combat food waste and hunger in the same effort, Margins started its gleaning collaboration with Food For Thought in 2016. Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ field after they’ve been commercially harvested or on fields where it’s not economically profitable to harvest. Some ancient cultures promoted gleaning as an early form of a welfare system and can be especially seen in the narratives of the Old Testament. Today it takes many forms: gleaning in the 21st century extends to gathering produce from grocery stores and markets that also aren’t economically profitable.

Margins gleans because we see hunger on the local level, especially among families from inner-city Toledo where more than 85,000 (1/5) residents in our county face hunger. Through our partnerships with local farms (including Shared Legacy, Hoens, associates of Maumee Valley Growers, and participating farmers at Toledo Farmers’ Market) we’re able to obtain food, and share it with those who lack access to fresh produce. Not only are we putting food on the tables of those in need, we also avoid wasting perfectly edible produce. Some of our partner farms have been able to completely avoid throwing their food in the dumpster and as a result, turn a small profit or trade unmarketable food for our labor.

IMG_7434However, the effectiveness of gleaning is greatly measured by the number of volunteers available. We share the opportunity to volunteer with the public in order to obtain more produce and do so quickly.The window of receiving a gleaning request from farmers is usually rapid, within 48 hours of the time scheduled to participate. We have a texting service that allows those interested in joining our effort that contains all relevant information. Knowing interested participants ability to volunteer may vary the service allows you to pick and choose what opportunity fits your schedule. If you’d like to be added to our texting service to receive a message when we have gleaning opportunities, email:laura@feedtoledo.org with your name and phone number with the message: “I’d like to be added to the gleaning texting service.”

Gleaning with Margins is a meaningful, hands-on opportunity to help the underprivileged in the Toledo area. Lastly, aside from reducing hunger, and inhabiting joy through your thoughtful efforts you have the opportunity to play a role in helping the planet by reducing food waste!!

For any questions or concerns about gleaning and volunteering opportunities with Margins email: delaney.acres@gmail.com.

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