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Volunteer gleaners needed to help “squash” hunger

The Society of St. Andrew’s Western Headquarters (SoSA West) is looking for 1,000 volunteers to help during its Squash Hunger 2013 event – an opportunity to glean a million pounds of winter squash for distribution to food banks, pantries and feeding agencies throughout the Greater Kansas City metro area and across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Just in time for Thanksgiving meals, Squash Hunger 2013 will be held Sunday through Wednesday, Nov. 3 – 6, at Carolyn’s Country Cousins, 17607 N.E. 52 St., Liberty, MO.

For the second consecutive year, SoSA West is partnering with Carolyn’s Country Cousins to provide a wide array of edible winter squashes, including acorn, ambercup, autumn cup, banana, butternut, carnival, crookneck, delicata, fairytale pumpkin, green and gray hubbard, kobacha, spaghetti, sweet dumpling and turbin squash. Each of these types of squash is highly nutritious and very versatile in terms of preparation.

This year’s field encompasses 60 acres, and provides more than three million pounds of squash and pumpkins. The field is part of the u-pick operation at Carolyn’s Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch, which runs Sept. 21 – Nov. 2. SoSA West and its volunteer gleaners will begin gleaning Nov. 3, the day after the patch closes for the season. Gleaning is the act of gathering fruit or vegetables left behind in a field or orchard after the harvest, or in this case, after the u-pick season ends.

SoSA West is reaching out to the community, inviting families, individuals and groups from faith congregations, civic and community organizations, corporations and other nonprofits to make plans now to help keep this wonderful food from being wasted. Please call 816-921-0856 to sign up for an opportunity to glean during the Squash Hunger 2013 event. SoSA West will need gleaners and drivers with trucks and vans who are willing to deliver the squash to food pantries, food banks and feeding agencies far and wide.

Food banks in four states are being contacted to see if they would like to distribute some of this squash to their recipient agencies, and trucking companies are being asked to donate the freight costs to haul loads of squash to food banks in the Midwest. Food banks and feeding agencies that would like to receive some of the gleaned squash also should call 8166-921-0856.

The Society of St. Andrew is a 34-year-old national, ecumenical hunger-relief nonprofit dedicated to providing fresh produce to feed people who are hungry. SoSA works with farmers, packers and other produce industry professionals to obtain excess and graded-out produce, and transport it to food banks and agencies that feed hungry people. Through its Gleaning Network, SoSA takes thousands of volunteers into fields and orchards each year to glean after the harvest. In 2012, the Society of St. Andrew provided more than 33.5 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to feeding programs across the country.

SoSA West opened its doors in 2008, and immediately began working with local and regional farmers and produce partners to get fruits and vegetables that aren’t pretty enough to sell at market to people who cannot afford to buy them. In the past five years, SoSA West has provided more than 14 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks and agencies in Kansas and Missouri, and across westerns states. In Kansas City, SoSA West works closely with Harvesters to distribute fresh produce to more than 620 agencies in the metro area.

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