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Food Bank's 'Glean Team' Harvests Fresh Effort Against Hunger

BATTLEFIELD, Mo. -- An effort to collect extra produce from local farmers before it spoils in the summer sun has already brought in hundreds of pounds of fresh food for those in need in Southwest Missouri.
BATTLEFIELD, Mo. -- An effort to collect extra produce from local farmers before it spoils in the summer sun has already brought in hundreds of pounds of fresh food for those in need in Southwest Missouri.

Ozarks Food Harvest has partnered with the Springfield Urban Agriculture Coalition, the Springfield Community Gardens and Harvest on Wheels to form what it's calling a Glean Team.

"This is our fourth glean and so far we've harvested over 13-hundred pounds just in three of them," OFH community coordinator Christy Claybaker said. "This is just a tiny, tiny example of what there is out there."

Farmers say it's been a good year weather-wise, so the Glean Team's objective is collect as much abundant produce as possible throughout the area.

Sheila Nichols, the executive director of SUAC, said the effort started with school gardens before growing into the fields of farmers willing to donate extra vegetables.

"With the partnership we've developed, it really helps support SUAC's mission of the gardens in the schools and that way those gardens are utilized throughout the summer and the produce can be used," Nichols said.

The Glean Team is made up of volunteers, organized by OFH.

"My daughter and I thought we would come out her and help out as much as we could," volunteer Ginnie Nelson said. "My daughter and I thought we would come out her and help out as much as we could."

Food bank workers said summer food efforts are especially important for families with children.

"The kiddos that are on free or reduced lunch, they rely on that during the school year and so in the summertime we really have a bigger need to really get food out to those pantries," Claybaker said.

"It's good for the kids, it's good for everybody," Nelson said.

For volunteer opportunities, visit the Ozarks Food Harvest website.

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