Gleaning Brings Fresh Vegetables and Food Education to a Mom’s Dinner Table

September is Hunger Action Month, a time to take action in support of our neighbors experiencing hunger right here in Vermont. This month, Nikki is sharing her story with you. It’s longer than usual, so we’ll share one part each Wednesday. Subscribe to get these stories in your email!

 

“In February of last winter, I learned at my WIC appointment [federally-funded nutrition services for women, infants, and children] that I could complete a WIC activity by helping to harvest vegetables with the Vermont Foodbank’s Gleaning Program. I love to garden, and I love vegetables, so it seemed like a great idea.

I also wanted my son, who was one and a half, to learn where our food comes from, and I knew he would love seeing the farm. Plus, the WIC staff told me that we would get to take home some extra veggies for our family, which would be a great addition to the money we got from WIC for fresh foods each month.

I called Andrea [one of the Foodbank’s gleaning leaders] right away, and she was so kind and friendly on the telephone. Honestly, I was feeling pretty lonely in the middle of February, in a new neighborhood, and not knowing hardly any other moms. I told her that I was dreaming of colorful vegetables, and I nearly started to cry. She said that gleaning happens in the summertime, but that it wasn’t too far away…”

Part 2

“…[Andrea] said that gleaning happens in the summertime, but that it wasn’t too far away, and she encouraged me to check out the Family Room programs for parents and toddlers in the meantime.

Gleaning was a wonderful activity for my son and me to do every week. It happened at the Intervale, which was close enough for us to reach by bike. Gleaning helped us get outside, get some exercise, and feel closer to our food.

The extra veggies we were able to take home each week have given us a store of healthy food in our freezer and on our shelves for the long winter to come.

It felt good to be helping others by harvesting fresh and local foods for the Foodbank. Plus, we met new friends and it was really something that we looked forward to each week.

My son, at two years old, knows the names of all the vegetable plants now – kale, spinach, chard, green beans, radishes, carrots, squash – and he knows how to pick the veggies and be careful with the plants.

He loves eating the food we harvested together, and he will proudly say, “These are green beans from the farm!” at the dinner table…”

…to be continued next week…

Part 3

“…[My son] loves eating the food we harvested together, and he will proudly say, “These are green beans from the farm!” at the dinner table.

The extra bonus of getting out to glean was that our bike ride home took us right by the Family Room Play Garden on Tuesday mornings. The first time I went there was after our first morning of gleaning. After that lonely winter, we were greeted with friendship and welcoming, open arms by many wonderful people. The staff were so kind and helped us feel right at home in the colorful bustle of activities going on.

I was overwhelmed with emotion at finding this community right in the midst of feeling so far away from everyone.

There were other parents and kids, having the same struggles I was having, and sharing food and stories and laughter and tears.

The teachers were really focused on keeping the space safe and healthy for all of the kids. I learned a lot form the way they talked to the children, encouraging them to do things for themselves and talk to each other about their feelings. I ended up talking to Rosie, one of the teachers, and her story moved me to tears.

I felt so very happy to find this group of diverse people with shared values – it really gave me hope…”

…to be continued next week…

Part 4

“…I felt so happy to find this group of diverse people with shared values – it really gave me hope.

I felt that even if I couldn’t make sense of all the horrors happening in the world at large, here was a community working to support each other despite many hardships, and succeeding.

Sometimes it is tough to get out of the house. There are so many things to do here, and some days it doesn’t seem like I have the energy for an outing. Especially over the winter, we mostly stuck around home, and I think it really left me feeling isolated and lonely.

The summertime gleaning and Family Room days have changed that – I know now that it is worth the extra effort. I feel like we are a healthier and happier family because of these programs, and I feel so grateful. Not to mention the gratitude we feel when we are able to eat fresh, local food – there’s nothing better!

Imagine the difference we can make, when we all come together.

You can make sure a neighbor in your community has the nourishing food and community support that they need right now. Please consider donating now.

September Is Hunger Action Month

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  • GIVE FOOD
    Provide nourishing meals to neighbors experiencing hunger here in Vermont

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  • HELP EVERYONE EAT LOCAL
    Harvest and gather fresh, local produce from Vermont farms for neighbors in need to enjoy.

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    Stay up-to-date on the issue of hunger in Vermont.

HAM GIF of wheat stalk

Interested in Learning More About Hunger Action Month?

September is National Hunger Action Month and the Vermont Foodbank, along with food banks across the country are working to mobilize everyone to take action in the fight against hunger. Whether it’s by sharing on social media, advocating and raising awareness, making a donation, or volunteering, you can find a way to get involved this September and make a difference in the lives of our neighbors struggling with hunger. Learn more…

  • Matthew works at Foodworks food shelf, one of the 353 community organizations that partners with Vermont Foodbank working towards a food-secure vermont.

  • Elysia lives in St. Johnsbury and is a community consultant for Vermont Foodbank. She brings her expertise to help improve services and increase access to food for folks in her community.

  • This month, we're celebrating you and those who've offered the Gift of Support and in so doing have joined us on the journey of creating a food-secure Vermont by sharing part of a recent interview with friend and neighbor Sara.