Teens Gather Food

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Spring break can be synonymous with wild beach parties and irresponsible behavior. But we followed one group of young people who used their time off to work for others. They pitched in to make sure that food left over after harvest went to hungry families. Kim Riemland reports. 

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(Jacksonville, Florida)

It’s Spring Break and two dozen students from six Virginia universities are in Florida … not far from the beach. But they’ve committed themselves to volunteer work instead of vacation.

Volunteers: “We just did four rows.”

They’re picking fruits and vegetables that never made it to market.

James Hargraves, Old Dominion University: “You come out in the field and there is all this good food left here that someone could eat, but it’s just not worth anything to the farmer.”

The non-profit Society of St. Andrew hosts gleaning projects like this year round, across the country. They often appeal to churches for participants.

United Methodist Carmen Johnson got an e-mail about the program and immediately wanted to help.

Carmen Johnson, Lynchburg College: “They’ve said that the food that we glean today will be on the tables by night.”

Of the 22 young people on this crew, almost a third are international students from countries where chronic hunger is a fact of life.

Givewell Muyaradzi, Graduate Student from Zimbabwe: “The food we waste here is enough to feed the people who are starving in Africa.”

Bobby Barnes’ family depends on help from a food pantry and says fresh vegetables aren’t always available. He volunteered because he wanted to help families like his own.

Bobby Barnes, Northern Virginia Community College: “Right now my family is evicted and we're currently living in a hotel, so hopefully when I get back we will have a house but right now we’re just living somewhere. Thank God we do have shelter and we are able to have food.”

Amazingly, in four days this group harvested six tons of broccoli, cabbage and citrus fruits … enough healthy servings to feed 36,000 people.

Brittney Drogo, Shenandoah University: “I wasn’t really expecting to get as dirty or have to lift as heavy of stuff, but I feel like doing all this really helps me feel how other people feel when they have to carry their burden. I am helping to carry some of their burden.”


The Society of St. Andrew works with thousands of farmers across the country to glean an average of 30 million pounds of fresh produce each year.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities in your community, contact the Society of St. Andrew’s national office at 1-800-333-4597.

Also, see: Students harvest produce to feed hungry

Posted: April 1, 2009