It was while working at farms in the Hudson Valley that Audrey Berman and Laura Engleman discovered just how much food gets left behind at harvest time. "On average, 20% of what is grown doesn’t make it out of the field," says Berman. In an aha moment, the pair realized that these farm-fresh leftovers could go a long way toward feeding people in need in their home communities of Columbia County.
This was the seed that sprouted the idea for Long Table Harvest, a new food rescue program cofounded by Berman and Engleman last fall. Now partnered up with 16 local farms and serving 14 distribution sites, Long Table Harvest is poised to deliver this year's leftover harvest to food-insecure individuals across the region.
The pair notes while that Columbia County has over 52,000 acres of farmland yielding an abundance of high-quality produce, it also has about 7,000 people who are food-insecure and another 10,000 who live 200% below the poverty line. Together, this accounts for about 25% of the population, with many elderly people and children affected. The new food-rescue program is serving to bridge the gap between wholesome farm food that would otherwise go to waste and the people who need it most.
To make it work, Long Table Harvest needs our help. The group has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise $20,000 to purchase a delivery vehicle and to register, insure, and fuel it. Funds are also needed to cover liability insurance costs for all of the volunteers working on the farms.
The 2016 growing season has only just begun, and the Long Table Harvest website already notes that they've rescued 435 pounds of food. Imagine what summer will bring - and imagine the impact of all that farm-fresh produce on the health and the hearts of our local communities.