Feeding the hungry in a land of plenty

When I shop at Whole Foods, I have the option of getting a refund for the bags I bring in which to put my groceries or donating that money to a local nonprofit organization. Depending on the organization, I usually donate. Today, I hesitated. The organization for this month’s donations, Community Food Bank, is a good one. They feed thousands of hungry people here in the San Joaquin Valley, the same valley that produces the food to feed the world. Whole Foods not only donates cash to the organization but also provides food stuffs, too. The Community Food Bank, along with numerous charities, is constantly begging the public to donate food and/or money. But, today’s newspaper, The Fresno BEE, (click here to read) brings a story that halts one in their tracks and makes one rethink this pleading for donations.

A local grower has a field of green beans he cannot economically harvest, but he cannot get any local charity to come get the beans, either. The crop will probably be disced under. And yet, the charities clamor for food. Here is free food. Ah, but the rub is that it takes labor to harvest. Although many want to eat the free food, no one wants to do the work to get the raw product from the field. It is a quandary. The Community Food Bank, who feeds thousands, cannot find any workers to go pick the beans. It’s probably a good thing I’m not in charge. I might say that if you want to pick up free food from the distribution center, then you have to be willing to do some of the work it takes to get it here.

I am hopeful that there will be a follow-up to the story. That some agency will step forward with enough manpower to harvest the beans and distribute the crop to those who could use the food. If that happens, I’ll let you know.

Here are the green beans we got in this week’s CSA box:

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10 responses to “Feeding the hungry in a land of plenty

  1. My thought is anyone who receives free items ought to have to put some effort forth in appreciation – – – whether it is government assistance or food. When I worked at the church, I saw plenty of healthy individuals come for assistance. Those who can’t do manual labor such as this should be able to do some job sitting down – – even if it doubling bags to pack the free food. The Bible does say, “. . . . if any would not work , neither should he eat .” 2 Thessalonians 3:10 However, nothing was required of the recipients at our church – – nor does our government require anything of recipients.

  2. I can appreciate your thoughts and comments, but I think I’d do some more research before jumping to your conclusion.

    For example, where is the field located? Is it easy to get to on public transportation? Does the owner have special picking instructions? Does he allow anyone on his land? Insurance questions? Just exactly how many beans are there? Is the field picked over?

    And lastly, does the overall good work done by Community Food Banks become completely negated by this one story???

    As I always say, look behind the curtain, and just don’t take anything at face value.

  3. It’s hard to know for sure what’s going on, and Barneysday raises some good questions. I hope those beans are not turned under while people are going hungry. That would truly be a shame.

  4. Did you all read the article? In checking my stats, I see, when I wrote this comment, that no one had clicked on the article itself. Although the food bank has done due diligence to go into the fields, no one is willing to do so. So far. We’ll see what happens down the line. The reporter is very good at followup.

  5. Our Whole Foods seems to be partial to animal shelters for their bag donation giveback programs. I usually donate.

  6. This community food bank dilemma mirrors third world distribution problems, hard to think this happens in North America. The green beans look wonderful.

  7. I did read the article. I don’t know why it didn’t show when I clicked on it – – but I read it before commenting.

  8. First off, I didn’t realize that Whole Foods does this. I haven’t shopped at the one near me. I will have to check that out. Secondly, I don’t see the people, even if they are poor, coming to work in the field to pick beans. Maybe if there were a variety of vegetables? Maybe if there was a plot of land and the people were given a chance to grow their own garden? I can see a liability issue, also. When we were in AZ for the winter, volunteers picked grapefruit from trees for the poor. The “poor” weren’t allowed to do it.

    • The San Joaquin Valley grows a variety of foods that literally feeds the world, yet we have hunger here. We have lots of unemployed people here. There are numerous agencies who help the poor, the unemployed, the hungry. Yet, so far, none of those organizations have stepped forward to pick the crop. There is an organization called Gleanings that takes the peach culls from the orchards, cutting and drying them to ship overseas. Some of the schools are buying local produce to serve to their students. I know the writer of this story, and I am waiting to hear his update as to if anyone picks the beans or if they are disced under.

  9. Hoard to believe some people cannot stoop to pick beans. And such beautiful beans also. Checking the article too. Dianne

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