• Editor’s Note: This month, the Herald is featuring a series of stories on the Holiday Wish Lists of Mid-Columbia nonprofits and how you can help. Does your nonprofit have a specific need for items that the community can help provide? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with attention to Holiday Wish List. Please include the name and mission of the nonprofit, contact information and a few specific needs. See more Wish List stories at www.tricityherald.com/wishlist.
A single nickle is powerful for Fields of Grace.
That’s what it costs the Richland-based nonprofit to deliver one serving of gleaned produce to area food banks.
Now that gleaning has ended with this year’s harvest, the nonprofit is raising money to support next season’s efforts.
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Volunteers from the nonprofit harvest fruit and vegetables donated by commercial farms and homeowners between May and November. Vendors at area farmers markets also donate food at the end of each market day.
Fields of Grace volunteers have made gift cards for $25, $50, and $100 donations that can be used as Christmas presents, said John Neill, Field of Grace’s executive director. Each card comes with a handmade ornament.
A $25 card supports 500 servings, a $50 card supports 1,000 servings and a $100 card supports 2,000 servings.
“It’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s just a nice way to give something that is really meaningful.”
The donations help pay for insurance and gas and repairs for the nonprofit’s truck. The nonprofit has a fairly low overhead, with a single employee, he said. Volunteers with trucks donate their own gas to help haul food, most of which is delivered directly to Second Harvest Tri-Cities.
This year, Neill expects the nonprofit will handle 500,000 pounds of food. That’s well over 1 million servings of food.
“It was just a bountiful crop and we just had lots of gleaning opportunities,” Neill said.
The nonprofit received quite a few apples this year, thanks to the record crop Mid-Columbia farmers picked, he said. But the nonprofit also was able to glean and distribute a lot of different fruits and vegetables this year.
The word also has been getting out about Fields of Grace, helping the nonprofit find new donors for commercial and residential gleans, Neill said. The nonprofit, started in 2006, reached a landmark of providing more than 1 million pounds of fresh produce to hungry families this summer.
“It offers the opportunity to provide healthy, fresh fruits and vegetables to food banks,” he said.
The food gleaned by the nonprofit’s volunteers helps take pressure off of the canned food donations food banks receive, Neill said.
Some of the donated food, such as sun-discolored apples, is perfectly good to eat but isn’t a product farmers can market, Neill said. Other farmers set aside part of their crop that they could otherwise sell for the gleaning group. And some farmers choose to directly donate already harvested produce.
To donate and receive a handmade gift card, go to www.fields-of-grace.com.
The nonprofit also is in need of more volunteers to help with gleaning next year. Training for the gleaning events are all done on site. Sign up for the mailing list by emailing email@example.com.