AMES, Iowa – The Iowa Gleaning Network received the Outstanding Volunteer or National Service Program Award at the 2021 Iowa Nonprofit Summit Oct. 7.
The Iowa Gleaning Network was established in April 2020 to help Iowa’s hunger relief organizations fill gaps in existing gleaning programs and assist with organizational needs illuminated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We congratulate the Iowa Gleaning Network on receiving this honor. The Iowa AmeriCorps 4-H Outreach program is pleased to hire and manage the gleaning coordinators who work toward reaching the network’s goals,” said Celine Beggs, Iowa AmeriCorps 4-H Outreach program director.
The Iowa AmeriCorps 4-H Outreach Program is a partnership between AmeriCorps and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development.
The Iowa Gleaning Network consists of eight AmeriCorps 4-H gleaning coordinators and an AmeriCorps program coordinator VISTA member hosted by Table to Table who serve more than 29 counties, including all metropolitan areas in Iowa. The AmeriCorps 4-H gleaning coordinators lead volunteers to harvest from local farmers and gardeners, then distribute that food to local organizations who serve their communities.
During the 2020 growing season, the Iowa Gleaning Network and AmeriCorps 4-H gleaning coordinators distributed nearly 25,000 pounds of produce valued at $57,000 to more than 65 organizations. In 2021, coordinators and volunteers have harvested more than 75,000 pounds with more than two months left in the gleaning season.
As much as 10% of food grown in the U.S. is left in the field. At the same time, more than 300,000 Iowans cannot meet their basic food needs. Gleaning programs are a creative solution that sends volunteers to harvest leftover produce that is perfectly good to eat. With volunteer support, the harvest labor is free, and farmers can receive a tax credit for donating a crop that would otherwise go uneaten.
“Our AmeriCorps 4-H gleaning coordinators have worked extremely hard to recruit volunteers and collect produce to provide to youth and families across the state of Iowa,” Beggs said. “We are looking forward to the 2022 growing year as we partner with new organizations, host more AmeriCorps 4-H members, and recruit both youth and adult volunteers to build up Iowa’s hunger relief system.”
As the Iowa Gleaning Network looks toward their third year of food rescue efforts, they need many individuals and organizations to support their work.
- Hunger relief organizations can sign up to partner as a host site for an AmeriCorps 4-H gleaning coordinator to develop existing or new gleaning initiatives. Interested organizations should contact Beggs at email@example.com.
- Individuals looking for service opportunities as AmeriCorps 4-H gleaning coordinators should contact Beggs at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about open opportunities.
- Community members who want to volunteer to harvest produce may contact the Iowa Gleaning Network at email@example.com to find a nearby gleaning operation.
- Iowa farmers who grow produce may donate produce to their local hunger relief organizations by allowing volunteers to glean surplus edible food from their fields. For more information, please contact the Iowa Gleaning Network at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shareable photos and captions
Corinne Sills, AmeriCorps 4-H gleaning coordinator with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Cerro Gordo County, manages gleaning volunteers at a community garden in Mason City.
Volunteers in Cass County glean potatoes to be distributed at locations across the county.