Food agencies are any nonprofit organization that distributes food at no cost to the community, such as food pantries, food banks, soup kitchens, and sharing centers/thrift stores. SoSA finds new agencies through online resources and previous history records to determine where the produce should go. SoSA’s database requires this information from all agencies:
Name, phone number, and email address of the contact person
Type of agency (shelter, soup kitchen, etc.)
The amount of storage, both cold and dry.
The days and hours of operation
The days and times that the agency distributes food.
If transportation is available and what kind (pickup trucks, box trucks, semis, etc.)
If the agency is a “middle man” and distributes produce to any other agencies in the area. This is to insure that you do not duplicate such distribution.
This information is vital to identifying who is the best pick for the current gleaning. Questions to consider when deciding who will take the donations are how much produce is expected to be gleaned, number of volunteers, distance, duration, and how quickly the agency can distribute.
Other resources such as AmpleHarvest.org and FoodPantries.org will show a large list of agencies that will receive food donations based on location.
One week prior to a glean, based on the information in the database, several agencies should be contacted to find a distributor willing to come out to pick up or that can receive a produce drop off. Contact the agencies through a phone call or email (the best mode of communication is the one they use), and set up the date and time for a glean. Following up is very important and is the VISTA’s responsibility and not the agencies to stay updated. At least one day before the event, follow up with the agency to confirm they will be available. Having the driver’s contact number will be good to have in case they need directions or special information about the farm. Ask if the agency can weigh the produce for an accurate record of pounds collected, or otherwise use estimations. If the agency gives donation receipts, keep a copy along with a gleaning form that tracks how many volunteers, how many pounds, farm location and agencies involved. Containers donated by the farms or agencies should also be recorded as in-kind donations.
Since 1995, the Society of St. Andrew has operated a statewide, volunteer-driven Gleaning Network in Florida that coordinates with local farmers, thousands of volunteers, and food providing agencies. The Florida Gleaning Network is going strong, providing millions of pounds of fresh produce for the hungry each year. Though an agriculturally diverse state, citrus has been a top yielding produce in Florida; with four citrus drives per year, Florida gleaners save and distribute over a half million pounds of sweet oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and lemons. In addition to citrus, the Florida office salvages everything from onions and white potatoes to strawberries, cabbage, cucumbers, squash, and that ever so famous Zellwood sweet corn.
The Florida office is located in Central Florida (Orlando) and oversees all projects and events for the state. The state office team holds two full-time employees: a Regional Director currently for Florida and Georgia, and a Program Coordinator, along with a Harvest Against Hunger Americorps VISTA. The state is sectioned off into North, South, East, West, Central, and Panhandle. Each area holds a satellite gleaning coordinator position who works part time to carry out gleans in the area.