LOGAN – Utah State University’s Gleaning Team picked 8,375 pounds of fruit and some vegetables from a host of trees and gardens across Cache Valley so far, said Kara Bachman, co-director of the gleaning team. The have picked fruits and vegetables from Paradise to Richmond this harvest season.
“If we could get 10,000 pounds this season, that would be awesome,” she said. “We want to continue picking surplus produce until the season is over.”
The purpose of the Gleaming Team is to reduce food waste in Cache Valley and provide nutritious food for students and other community members.
“For the first year, we feel pretty good about the help we received from the students and the property owners who let us pick there,” she said.
Bachman, a Nutrition and Dietetics major with a Food Service minor, said they recruited 226 volunteers this year.
“We decided if we can break into smaller groups to about 10 people it’ll be easier to handle,” Bachman explained. “We’ve taken the picked produce and donated some back to the tree owners, some went to the Cache Community Food Pantry and some the USU SNAC pantry and anywhere else we could find that needed it.”
Produce came from homeowners and private property owners with excess produce from all across the valley. The team picked excess produce that would have otherwise gone to waste.
“Ameri Farnsworth, the other co-director, was more in the preserving part of the effort,” Bachman said. “She made fruit leather and applesauce to preserve and use it in other ways.”
The collection effort was a collaborative effort of the USU Val R. Christensen Service Center, USU Extension and the Student Sustainability Office.
“I’d like to thank the community for their support and the students who helped so far this year,” Bachman said. “I have been amazed at the people who agreed to let us on to their property to pick fruit.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that over 100 billion pounds of fruit and vegetables are left in the fields every year.
The Department of Agriculture officials also said that in the United States, food waste is estimated to be between 30-40 percent of the food supply. Estimates from USDA’s Economic Research Service reported 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010.