Thankful Thursday: ProduceGood’s CropSwap Program

According to journalist and blogger Jonathan Bloom, each day Americans waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl in Pasadena from the field to the stadium brim. In hard numbers, that’s equivalent to 160 billion pounds of food that could have been used to feed people in need. Hearing statistics like these prompted Nita Kurmins Gilson, Jerilyn White and Alexandra White to found ProduceGood – a local non-profit organization that organizes food recovery efforts to glean fruits and vegetables primarily from San Diego residents’ gardens and overgrown trees.

Recently, ProduceGood partnered with the San Diego Food Bank on a CropSwap activity in Rancho San Diego. Teams of volunteers, including the Food Bank’s Vice President of Development Liz Sheahan, worked together to pick oranges, fruit that will go to San Diegans facing food insecurity and hungry for nutritious, fresh food. Since partnering with the Food Bank in August 2015, ProduceGood has facilitated the donation of 4,331 pounds of citrus fruit from residential homeowners, and an additional 872 pounds of organic tomatoes from an organic grower for a total of 5,203 pounds. For Nita, it’s the start of something significant.

“It’s absolutely a dream come true,” she explained. “It is so inspiring to see that the time has come for food recovery efforts. People are finally getting that. At this moment, we’re affecting change and it’s all coming together. It feels so hopeful.”

The flagship program of ProduceGood, CropSwapSanDiego, is a gleaning group that harvests excess fruit in backyard orchards in San Diego (with permission of the owners) and delivers it to local food banks, like the San Diego Food Bank. Pitching in at this local CropSwap event was 15-year-old San Carlos resident Trevor and his family. The local high school student expressed the reward he felt volunteering his time to make a difference.

“It feels nice to do something that benefits other people,” he said. “The people here are really awesome.”

On this “Thankful Thursday,” the Food Bank thanks Trevor, Nita and all the volunteers with ProduceGood for their tremendous work in rolling up their sleeves and personally collecting food for our neighbors in need. Your work lessens the amount of food wasted in our region while putting food on the table for low-income seniors, hard-working families, dedicated military personnel and their families, veterans and the homeless.

If you are interested in volunteering with ProduceGood, contact the organization by emailing producegood.jeri@gmail.com or visit their website at www.producegood.org.