“Feed people, not landfills!” is the mission of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s new Glean Team, a cooperative effort with FoodCycle LA that has begun monthly gleanings of the Larchmont Farmers Market for a community food giveaway at the Wilshire United Methodist Church.
Glean Team coordinator Colette Amin told the Buzz that she used to volunteer as a gleaner (someone who gathers leftover crops or market goods) for five years at the Larchmont Farmers Market in cooperation with the Food Forward organization. The team then took their gathered produce to the LA City College Student Union to distribute it to “anyone who showed up.” But when LACC scaled back the distribution days, Amin said she brought the idea for a new gleaning partnership to the GWNC Outreach Committee. The GWNC required a non-profit partner, however, so Amin started looking for one…but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everybody’s plans fell apart. Eventually, however, Amin asked FoodCycleLA if it could contact the Larchmont Farmers Market about starting a new gleaning and giveaway program. She also approached some of the Market’s farmers, whom she knew from her Food Forward days, and their reception was also positive. “When I would go to the market,” Amin told us, “I’d let them know I was working on getting it going again with a new agency, and they were eager to donate.” Then the GWNC board approved the project, too, and contributed reusable grocery bags to give out at the inaugural event.
So while the whole process took about three years to get up and running, Amin was finally able to launch the new Glean Team this year, with help from Amin’s son, Oston Jemba, and GWNC board member Tommy Atlee (“I could not do this if he and my son were not there to help,” Amin said.) Currently the group plans to hold its events on the first Sunday of each month.
The team’s first gleaning at the Larchmont Farmers Market took place on Sunday, February 4, at the end of the market’s regular sales day. At that first event, the GWNC and FoodCycleLA volunteers gathered 212 pounds of produce, fruit, bread, and hummus, which they transported to the parking lot of the Wilshire United Methodist Church (4350 Wilshire Blvd.), where church volunteers helped to arrange and give away the items to anyone who came to claim them.
In the group’s second outing on March 4, the team collected 331 pounds of food for the subsequent giveaway, and Amin says the vendors, such as “Underwood Family Farms, J.M. Produce, Arnette Farms, Nicolas Family Farms, Frecker Farms, Jyan Isaac Bread, Breum Farms, Bellacienda Farms and others, were eager to give some of their unsold goods to feed the community and not landfills.”
The Glean Team’s next food collection and giveaway will be held on Sunday, April 2, starting with the Farmers Market gleaning from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. (all the food donations are weighed, and the farmers get a donation receipt for tax purposes), and then the food distribution at 3:00 p.m. in the parking lot on the west side of the Wilshire United Methodist Church (enter from Wilshire Blvd.)
Amin credits the success of the project so far to the enthusiastic volunteers, including Atlee and Jemba, as well as Samantha Duzy from FoodCycleLA, and Pastor Susana Kim from the WUMC. (The church, says Amin, has been “very receptive,” and even does all the cleanup after the food giveaways.)
For more information, or if you would like to volunteer with the Glean Team for an upcoming event, see https://forms.gle/whj1UR4wuFcTPziX7.
About Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.
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One thought on “New GWNC and FoodCycle LA “Glean Team” Helps “Feed People, Not Landfills!””
Beautiful gesture and would prefer to volunteer if able…I reside in South Los Angeles yet am not aware of any of the food pantries that give away fresh produce and bottled water…