The sad facts are: People are going hungry. Families, children and seniors are going without healthy food. And an astounding 52% of fruits and vegetables grown in the U.S. go to waste before reaching consumers.
An organization in Kansas City, Missouri is addressing these issues on a grass roots level: After the Harvest partners with farmers to rescue nutritious fruits and vegetables from going to wasteand donates them to agencies that serve hungry people, primarily in Greater Kansas City.
Their volunteers “glean” after the harvest, picking what’s left in local farmers’ fields—as well as gardens and orchards—and picking up already harvested leftover produce directly from farms and farmers markets.
After the Harvest connects the farmers’ excess to people who need it, preventing fruits and vegetables from rotting in the field or ending up in the dumpster.
“Farmers don’t have time to locate food pantries or soup kitchens that will take our produce on an hour’s notice,” says farmer Lee Karbaumer. “We certainly don’t have time to deliver it somewhere. After the Harvest does that for us. And they even come harvest it when we don’t have time to do that, either.”
“To learn about After the Harvest was very important to us,” Karbaumer continues, “because all of a sudden there was something very useful we could do with our (leftover) produce. They connect our food to hungry people and that’s the best thing that can be done with it.”
Moreover, knowing After the Harvest will pick up the extra after the farmers market, is a win/win for farmers. Said farmer Dave Redfearn, “One of the challenges with farmers market sales is that it is difficult to harvest the perfect quantity of produce each week.” He says if you harvest too little, you miss out on sales and if you harvest too much, there’s waste.
But now, he said, knowing After the Harvest will pick up the excess, “we harvest extra of everything, taking larger quantities to market. Devoting a little extra time to harvest increases our sales potential while allowing us to give away a larger quantity each week.”
After the Harvest also raises funds to go outside our region to secure semi-truckloads of donated produce that might end up in landfills, primarily destined for Harvesters—The Community Food Network. After the Harvest is the largest local produce donor to Harvesters, serving 26 counties in the area. This unique partnership gives Harvesters access to produce that would otherwise not be available to them.
In 2018, 153 farmers and growers—133 local growers and 20 truckload growers—
donated their excess produce to After the Harvest. Over the last five years, After the Harvest has provided over 16.7 million pounds of this healthy, nutritious produce to feed their hungry neighbors.
To learn more about After the Harvest, please visit them at https://aftertheharvestkc.