Friday, October 26, 2012

Veggies, Vendors and Volunteering :)

Sept. 9th 2012
For my first field trip I knew I wanted to make a trip to the Minneapolis farmers market and although going to the market itself is always an adventure, I saw it as an opportunity to help those in need as well. I had heard of Second Harvest Heartland and thought that they may be a great resource for volunteer opportunities.
Second Harvest is a member of Feeding America, a national network of food banks, and is the largest hunger relief organization in the upper Midwest. In 2011 alone, they collected, warehoused and distributed more than 70 million pounds of food for the hungry. They have many of opportunities for volunteer work with their multiple food banks, soup kitchens and food collection initiatives. After talking it over with a couple of my friends that are also taking the Food Life Cycle Nutrition course, we decided to sign up to volunteer with Second Harvest’s Fellowship of the Fresh volunteer program at the Minneapolis farmers market. The program occurs each summer in a partnership with the Minneapolis Farmers Market to collect of 100,000 pounds of fresh produce for local food shelters.  
My good friends Ann and Courtney :)
 As a volunteer, it was our duty to circulate the market to encourage shoppers to purchase extra produce for donation and to pick up donations from vendors to be boxed and palletized.  On the morning of our volunteer shift, we arrived an hour early to get some quality time to brows all of the markets bounty before we began at 11:30. We were greeted with a smile by Elizabeth, our project leader, given a “Get Fresh” T-shirt and introduced our selves to some of the other volunteers. There was a mother and daughter pair, a lady who came on her own and lovely couple, John and Carol from Bell Plaine, Minnesota who had just recently won an award for putting in over 3,000 hours of volunteer service. We waited a short while till the second harvest truck came and dropped off a couple of pallets of boxes that we soon folded and assembled so they could be loaded with food donations. After the boxes were ready, it was time to distribute the boxes and then wait for them to be filled so we could collect them. While we were waiting, it gave us an opportunity to explore all the wonderful fresh produce our great state of Minnesota has to offer and my mind was just going crazy with all the cooking possibilities! Sauted cabage with garlic and soy, roasted squash with pecans and maple syrup or a big ol’ pan of apple crisp! Nummmmm!
*I got distracted with volunteering so this and the next photo are thanks to

Once I was shaken awake from my culinary coma, it was time to go grab all the boxes of donations. There were boxes filled with peppers, greens and even fresh baked bread, all of which was going to be distributed in the next 24 hours and used to fuel the minds and bodies of the less fortunate.

It was truly remarkable the generosity of some of the vendors at the market. One family gave us 23 boxes full of beautiful fresh produce alone. At the end of the day, I am not sure on the final total but there were at least 7 palates of boxes stacked with produce to be donated and distributed to food shelves and homeless shelters all around the twin cities area. Overall it was a really wonderful experience and I was extremely proud to participate in a program that not only feeds people but feeds them the fresh healthy produce they may not always get the chance to enjoy while also helping in lowering the food waste produced here in Minnesota. I will definitely be returning to second harvest at the farmers market again. 

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