Retail Grocery Gleaning

Retail grocery gleaning will drastically change the face of Glean Kentucky in the South-Central region. I love working with the local farmers and dropping off produce that I know was in the ground just days before. But, now that we’re heading rapidly into winter months, the boxes I drop off are getting smaller every week. This is where retail grocery gleaning can really shine!

It feels overwhelming at times, thinking about all the moving pieces needed to effectively execute retail grocery gleaning. Luckily, I’m surrounded by an amazing community in Bowling Green and they are ready with connections and suggestions. We are all excited to see this level of fresh produce getting into the hands of those who need it.

Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland

I’m also surrounded by the dedication and talent at Feeding America Kentucky’s Heartland (FAKH). Last week, I travelled to Elizabethtown for a meeting at their corporate office. I learned so much while I was there. Here is just a snapshot of what they do:

  • Serving 42 counties throughout central, south central and western Kentucky
  • Distributing over 13 million meals per year
  • Servicing production facilities, farmers, and grocery stores
  • Facilitating pick-up from Kroger, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Food Lion, and other retail stores
  • Providing a mobile food pantry to underserved regions
  • Creating a purchasing cooperative with partner agencies
  • Distributing government commodity foods through The Emergency Food Assistance Program and Commodity Supplemental Food Program
  • Developing Backpack Program to provide easy to prepare food for kids when school is not in session
  • Partnering with American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and local emergency services to provide emergency food during disasters

The Visit

This is already quite a list! But, while I was touring their facility, I learned their true success is in the details. In order to successfully reach these lofty accomplishments, they manage both the purchase and donation of food. They have to manage expiration dates, proper storage and multiple recipient agencies with differing needs. They separate out pop-top and ready to eat foods for their Backpack Program. I was also introduced to their section dedicated to ethnic food needs. Many people who are in need may eat differently than others. They have taken the time to develop an avenue to provide foods commonly used by these communities. They are even providing spices! What a gift.

Touring the facility and talking to the staff left me feeling excited to be a part of the team.  I left this meeting with a better sense of our first steps and a deep appreciation for the dedication that drives FAKH. It will be a big job and I expect another steep learning curve. But I now have an amazing team to help and even some new friends!