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GleanSLO expands into north SLO County to gather more donated produce

Posted at 4:48 PM, Aug 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-18 01:13:56-04

Looking for a way to manage your overflow of produce in northern San Luis Obispo County? GleanSLO is coming your way.

GleanSLO is a food rescue non-profit that harvests food out of local residents’ backyards as an extension of SLO Food Bank. They work with homeowners and commercial farmers to turn their excess food into meals so that it doesn't contribute to the 108 billion pounds of food that go to waste each year in the United States.

The SLO Food Bank uses their hunger relief network to distribute the collected produce and contribute to the over 50 meals a month that are given out throughout the county.

"Last year, we gleaned 315,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables that we were able to re-distribute," said SLO Food Bank Food Rescue Manager Dre Richards.

These collected fruits and vegetables not only help the people receiving them but the people who grew them.

"You can see these trees are too much for me now to pick myself," said homeowner June Minikel.

GleanSLO is always accepting volunteers on their website for anyone willing to help with harvesting and collecting. It's not always an easy job, but it's a very rewarding one.

"I feel tired because it's hard work. We do it for two hours at a time and it really gives you an appreciation for people that do it for eight hours a day," said longtime GleanSLO volunteer Mike Gorman. "We do some food distribution as well at places like Cuesta and a couple of other places. You can see the food that we picked a couple of days before in the food distribution bags that they give to folks that need it. So, yeah, we can see it firsthand."

The program first came to be in 2010 when a group of people came together with the idea to gather excess produce grown locally to give back to those in need in the area. Now 12 years later, they find themselves expanding into the northern part of the county with the help of a grant from the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority.

Richards said they had the plan to expand for about a year but they originally lacked resources and found that it was unsustainable to drive a vehicle to the north or south county to glean one backyard. With the grant, they can now create a separate hub with the designated equipment to work out of in the northern part of the county.

More information regarding ways to help donate or volunteer can be found on their website.