Cornell Cooperative Extension – Gleaning Program

“Why does gleaning work so well? Nobody wants to throw away food. If a program can reduce waste, increase the value of a farmer’s product, introduce communities to our local food system, and give those who are hungry healthier food options - that’s a success!” — Lucy Joyce, Executive Director

Over 200,000 pounds of Orange County-grown produce would be thrown away each year without the Gleaning Program at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County (CCEOC). Operating at the intersection of food security, nutrition, and agriculture, the Gleaning Program provides a connection point between Orange County farmers, volunteer gleaners (or harvesters), and emergency food providers such as food pantries and soup kitchens. The Gleaning Program coordinates volunteers to harvest produce, which it stores in a refrigerated box truck to be delivered directly to area food pantries on the day each is open to clients. This ensures that nutritious produce that would otherwise go to waste reaches economically-disadvantaged households. Most food pantries offer very little fresh produce and instead rely heavily on shelf-stable foods due to restricted space, narrow hours of operation, and limited refrigeration. While convenient and inexpensive, these shelf-stable foods are often processed and of limited nutritional value. The Gleaning Program results in improved food choice, variety, and nutrition for emergency food program clients, as well as reduced food waste.

CCEOC is part of a state-wide system working to improve people’s lives and communities by combining local knowledge and experience with research-based solutions. Its four areas of focus are agriculture, supports for youth and families, the environment and natural resources, and economic development.

The program funding provided by the Dyson Foundation focuses on food security and falls within the Safety Net theme.