Fulton Street Farmers Market to operate gleaning program

Courtesy Fulton Street Farmers Market

The Fulton Street Farmers Market is assuming operations of a gleaning initiative started by a nonprofit.

The 100-year-old market said Thursday, March 31, that starting in June, it will fold into its own operation the free fresh food market gleaning and distribution program formerly run by the Heartside Gleaning Initiative.

Going forward, the initiative will be called the Market Gleaning Program.

Since 2014, the Heartside Gleaning Initiative has collected and distributed 270,714 pounds of fresh produce to various neighborhoods, food pantries and meal programs in the city of Grand Rapids through its Good Food Boxes, free fresh food markets and distribution programs.

The Heartside Gleaning Initiative will continue operating the Good Food Boxes program.

This will be the first program, outside of food assistance on market days, that Fulton Street Farmers Market will run under its own operations.

Executive Director Dana Eardley said this was a “long-awaited” step.

“Gleaning at the market increases access to healthy food for our community while giving our farmers the opportunity to donate the produce that they work tirelessly to grow,” Eardley said. “After years of close partnership with HGI, we are thrilled to be able to continue the work of this incredible program.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines gleaning as “the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state and county fairs, or any other sources in order to provide it to those in need.”

As part of the Market Gleaning Program, at the end of every Saturday market, a Fulton Street Farmers Market employee and a group of volunteers will collect excess produce from farmers to be distributed to the Heartside neighborhood, God’s Kitchen, The Other Way Ministries and the Community Food Club.

The program will help Fulton Street Farmers Market carry out its mission of increasing access to fresh, healthy foods; promoting sustainability by lowering food waste; and strengthening community connections, the market said.

The Market Gleaning Program will require 10 to 12 volunteers every Saturday. Those looking to get involved can sign up here.

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