CA1 – USA
The Gleaning Project of South-Central Pennsylvania
Globally, 1 in 9 people are chronically hungry, at least 50% of children under the age of 5 lack access to nutritious food-resulting in stunted grow in 25% of the children and tragically 30% of all produced food is lost or wasted. Where there is a need there is a Lion!
The Gleaning Project of South-Central Pennsylvania was created to help address the need of hunger by harvesting crops at local farms after the primary harvest is completed. In addition, collecting excess fresh produce from, local vendors, home farmers, grocery stores and other sources. Unfortunately, an increase in availability of produce, outstripped the capacity of the refrigeration unit of the program. Sadly, produce was going to waste before it could be distributed.
Lions club members involved at a variety of levels with The Gleaning Project realized the value
of the program and saw the frustration of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly, especially
during the growing season, to get as much produce as possible distributed to those in need. Lions who volunteered to harvest saw the large amounts of produce collected at each glean, and Lions who volunteered as food distributers saw the need and gratitude of clients who came to get produce at the various distribution points throughout the county.
Seeing the need the GAT of 14 – C submitted an application to LCIF Hunger Pilot Grant program, requesting funds to obtain a larger box refrigerator unit and relocating the existing unit in order to increase storage capacity and reduce the waste of needed produce.
“Alone we can do so little, together so much” despite not knowing if either grant application would be approved, starting in May 2021, the local Lions clubs moved forward with their fundraising plans. A club sponsored a concert raising $1,500. Clubs sold raffle tickets resulting in $9200.00 and clubs held Chicken BBQs raised just over $2,000.
In early August 2021, the Grant Committee received word that their application to Lions of PA Foundation had been accepted. Later that month, the District Governor was informed that LCIF approved the district’s Hunger Pilot Grant application.
In April 2022 the pace of the project accelerated dramatically. By mid-month, site preparation,
which included excavation, footers, foundations and concrete slabs for both the new and the old
refrigerator boxes had begun. This took a little over a week. By this time, the materials for the new refrigerator box had been delivered to the contractor and were ready for assembly. The contractor’s crew took approximately three weeks to assemble the new box and reassemble the old box, complete the electrical and refrigeration work, and seal the units. By early May 2022, both units were ready for use, just in time to receive some of the spring garden produce.
Signage was ordered, delivered and installed, and on May 24, 2022, a ribbon-cutting ceremony
was held to officially open the new unit. Representatives of the local Lions clubs, District 14-C Lions, Lions of PA Foundation and LCIF attended the ceremony and spoke, along with representatives from The Gleaning Project and its parent organization. Approximately 40 people attended the ceremony which was covered by the local newspaper.
This grant project provides both immediate and long-term impact on the amount of produce The Gleaning Project can distribute throughout the community. In the few months since the completion of the project, they have been able to increase the amount of produce they can accept and store from their sources. They are able to hold that produce for a longer period of time, which gives them greater opportunity to distribute the produce through their distribution network.
Moving forward, The Gleaning Project expects to increase their number of partners, both those who donate food or make their fields available for gleaning and those who distribute the produce. Collection of food is likely to increase to 1,000,000 pounds of produce over the next five years. This will increase the number of direct beneficiaries in that more volunteers will be engaged in collecting and delivering food. More importantly, the in-direct beneficiaries will increase dramatically. Based on a 1:15 ration of individuals helped to pounds of food collected, the number of in-direct beneficiaries could increase by over 30,000 individuals.
“You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else. You can make a difference!