Society of St. Andrew In addition to lining the shelves of grocery stores and pantries all over the world, Mississippi’s farmers have found an opportunity to provide for members of their community who struggle with food insecurity. Produce is usually harvested based on size and color in order to appeal to customers. Routinely, produce that doesn’t meet these specific cosmetic standards remains in the fields, despite being perfectly edible. The Society of St. Andrew provides an outlet for farmers to donate their blemished produce and give back to their community. “Most farmers participate out of the goodness of their hearts,” says Jackie Usey, the program coordinator for Mississippi. “They do not like to see the produce they have worked so hard to grow just rot in a field and would prefer to see it go to the hungry.” The Society of St. Andrew is a nondenominational, non-profit, charitable organization with nine regional offices that gleans leftover food from fields and helps feed hungry people all over the U.S. In 2014, the Society of St. Andrew was able to glean 2.5 million pounds of produce in Mississippi. The Society of St. Andrew was founded in 1979 by two Methodist ministers who felt that there was too much food being wasted for people to be hungry. “One day at church, they met a sweet potato farmer and asked if they could come out to his field and pick up his leftover sweet potatoes to help those in need,” Usey says. “That same farmer still allows us to glean his fields to this day.” Gleaning the leftover produce from the fields benefits both the farmer and our nation’s less fortunate. The list of produce that can be gleaned is endless – watermelons, blueberries, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe – and is grown by a variety of producers. Usey says the sizes of the farms range as well. “We glean from farmers who have thousands of acres to people who just have a backyard garden.” The Society of St. Andrew helps feed the hungry by providing leftover produce. The manpower behind these gleaning events also comes in all shapes and sizes. The majority of volunteers are from church groups, but Usey says they have also worked with inmate labor in the fields. “This program helps the community by providing nutritious produce to those in need,” Usey says. “Recipients having to get help from food banks normally get mostly canned food, so it is nice for them to receive fresh fruits and vegetables.” For more information on how to get involved, visit endhunger.org.

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