By Brian Callahan, volunteer at the Ballston and Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Markets
In “Let’s Glean!” the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes how 100 billion pounds of food are thrown away each year, despite there being 49 million people who are going hungry in our country. The process of gleaning serves to counteract that imbalance by redistributing food, which would otherwise go to waste, back to people in need. In support of local gleaning, FRESHFARM Markets partners with food kitchens and other programs organized by nonprofit organizations throughout the greater metro Washington, D.C. area to give surplus food from farmers markets back to the community.
The Iona Active Wellness Program at St. Albans is one of the programs FRESHFARM Markets works with in Washington, D.C. Every week, members of the Iona community may go to a mini farmers market in the St. Albans Episcopal Church. This indoor farmers market provides people access to the latest seasonal produce and makes it easier for senior citizens to get the nutrients they need to maintain healthy diets.
On August 18, 2014, the mini farmer’s market at St. Albans featured a variety of fruits and vegetables that were donated by growers from the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM Market: green beans, potatoes, lettuce, parsley, eggplant, Swiss chard, beets, yellow squash, artisan breads, bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and chives. A sign on a nearby table displayed the recipe of the week, which was a Mediterranean salad, along with other information meant to foster awareness in the community on food topics such as cooking, nutrition, and recipes.
By the time I arrived at the mini market with FRESHFARM Markets Manger and Volunteer Coordinator, Sam Giffin, several of the produce items were already gone, which, along with the enthusiasm of the people who were there selecting their own food, spoke to the popularity of the market. I could tell how special this event is for the members of Iona’s Active Wellness program, how it plays an important role in their community on a regular basis, and how it supports the positive effects of gleaning in an incalculable manner.
A special thanks to Rose Clifford and Ashley Steiner for providing me insight on the market on a busy Monday morning. For more information on Iona’s Active Wellness program, click here.