A silver lining of the last 15 months: the past year has reaffirmed the need to take good care of the produce we glean, the people gleaning it, and the people receiving it. We’ve always aimed to handle produce carefully, to ensure our volunteers are taken care of while gleaning, and to make sure only produce of high quality is making its way to the people we served. The past year has taught us that these practices needed to be formalized, and that we needed to be sure that people at every level of our organization were familiar with them.

Many of the health and safety recommendations we’ve followed for years suddenly became the norm throughout our the world. As we return to more on-farm gleaning this summer and fall, we’re working to continue and improve our adherence to best practices for handling produce. We’ll continue making clean gloves available to our volunteers, and are working out better solutions for having mobile hand-washing stations at our group gleans. We’re also looking into ways for ensuring the crates we often use for harvesting and delivering produce are always clean, while also ensuring this process has the least environmental impact possible.

The pandemic has also informed how we communicate with our volunteers about risk. Gleaning has never been, nor will it ever be a 100% risk-free activity, but the risks of the last year have forced us to be better at discussing these things with our volunteers more openly and candidly. With the latest news from the state relaxing mandated COVID protocol, we’re working to bring our own guidelines into accordance with what the experts recommend. We also want to make sure our volunteers and other partners are able to make the right decisions to keep themselves safe while gleaning well into the future. Keep an eye here, and on our social media for news about how that will look in the next week or so.

Throughout all this, our volunteers have been consistently dedicated to carrying out our mission, and have done so while considering the safety of everyone involved in our work. Thank you for sticking with us through a tough time – we’re excited to get back out this year to glean with you soon!