Project Glean: A Great Way for Families to Help Feed People In Need This Harvest Season
I am a firm believer that a family that serves together grows together. This fall, Colorado families are out in full force supporting Project Glean, a fantastic harvest effort that helps feed people in need. Mile High Mamas sat down with Kate Waggoner, a Parker-dwelling mom of three great kids, and Greg Morton, Director of Marketing and Communications for COMPA Ministries.
Q: Tell us about Project Glean.
Greg: Gleaning itself comes from the Old Testament in the Bible (Leviticus 19:9-10). For many years, COMPA has enjoyed a special partnership with several local farmers through Project Glean. On weekends during harvest season (September – October), volunteers can harvest Colorado-grown produce that is then donated to COMPA and distributed to the many hunger relief agencies we support through our Farm Market program or packaged and prepared in our vacu-seal operation for distribution in those times of the year when fresh produce is hard to find.
The produce that we glean on any given Saturday is brought back to the COMPA warehouse where it is sorted (by volunteers) and distributed the next week in our Farm Market program. Farm Market is a system we developed that gets fresh produce out to those that need it most within 24 hours of it coming it for no cost, in order to maintain its freshness and quality.
In addition to Project Glean, COMPA helps homeless and low-income individuals reach a given level of self-sufficiency through vocational training programs. According to the most recent study, there are more than 11,000 homeless people, and 200,000 working poor or “at-risk” people in the metro area.
Q: How did you get involved and how long have you been helping?
Kate: This is the third season that my family has gleaned. The first year, we went with a group from our church. We had two small kids and wanted to do a service project where we could include our little ones. We found it to be a perfect way for people of all ages to help those in need. My husband and I decided after the first experience that we would make it a family tradition every fall. This was the first community service project that I found that is conducive to families of very young children, and gleaning is a great experience for all ages. There was something very special about our 4-yr-old understanding that we were “picking vegetables for people who don’t have money to buy them”, and we all really look forward to the opportunity to pick vegetables each year.
Q: What kind of businesses and people volunteer? Tell us who are the recipients to Project Glean?
Greg: All walks of life volunteer for glean. This year, we’ve got middle and high school groups signed up (Highland Ranch’s Valor High School, Parker’s Chaparral High School and Cherry Hills Christian Middle School), churches, Girl Scout troops, Cub Scout packs, friends and neighbors, lots of individual families, and businesses (Avaya, Holland and Hart, a dentist office and a marketing research firm). It is open to anyone who wants to participate in a community service project. Unlike many service projects that require kids to be of a certain age to participate, children of all ages are welcome to help harvest the produce.
The recipients of Project Glean are the more than 70,000 men, women and children served by the 130 hunger relief agencies we support. Agencies include the Denver Rescue Mission, Metro Food Bank, churches that operate food pantries/banks for their communities, etc. They registered with us and then they are in the system. We send them an email each day stating what we got in and what will be available to them. The only stipulation is that they have to give the food out at no cost.
Q: How can moms get involved in this great cause?
Kate: Moms can get involved by contacting COMPA via their website. I strongly encourage families with young children to give it a try. I don’t think they’ll regret it!
Greg: We really need volunteers for the last couple of Saturdays in October. More info and contact info is on our website (www.compa.org) or call Kevin at 303-294-0272.