Gleaning to Feed the Poor

By Christine Lauff
Staff Writer

It is no secret that the United States is in the midst of an escalating financial crisis. In 2006, 12.6% of American families struggled to afford basic necessities, including food, resulting in an estimated 12 million children experiencing hunger. Some may be able to look at these statistics and ignore them, because they themselves are not affected, nor is anyone they know. However, poverty is everywhere and is often closer than people may realize. In 2007, it was estimated that 20.3% of those living in Scranton were homeless, with one third being children.

Although the number of those affected by hunger and poverty continues to rise, luckily, so does the number of volunteers ready to help. Members of the Meadowcroft Presbyterian Church in West Chester were inspired by the Bible to begin gleaning for the poor:

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not

reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of

your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien (Leviticus 23:22)

Volunteers involved with gleaning have begun gathering corn from Westtown field in West Chester, for donations. Currently, the operation is run with the help of 600 volunteers, coming together from 15 community organizations and 20 churches.

“There’s a new poverty out there,” said Donna Hartman, coordinator of the Cares Food Network, which distributes the corn collected during gleaning. Hartman estimated that each week an additional ten people come asking for food.

An astonishing aspect of this project is the number of young people that have become involved. Many parents initially got their children involved in gleaning to raise their awareness of poverty and hunger, as well as their appreciation for what they have. It is obvious that this idea has become successful: an increasing number of local children have begun asking friends and family to donate to Cares, rather than receiving gifts for special occasions, and continue to stay in the gleaning program.

While at the gleaning, Lize Hugo, 17, talked of another hunger awareness program: the 30-Day Famine. This program is an annual one day fast to help young people experience hunger and appreciate all that they have.