Friday, August 14, 2009

Community Food Cycling

U.S. Foodservices is a dedicated supporter of Feeding America and its member food banks. 2008 marked the launch of their Full Plate Full Lives campaign featuring both national and local initiatives to help support the fight against hunger.

Waste Not,Want Not” is an organization comprised of local community volunteers that regularly collects unwanted ripe fruit from trees located on Maui from both business and private properties. Once the fruit is obtained it is distributed to locations where senior citizens, schools and other needy organizations and low-income communities can easily obtain this ready to eat fruit at no cost.

As a startup organization the group co-founded by Suzanne Freitas, and her brother, James Mylenek Sr. of Kihei. began using their personal truck, borrowed ladders and other needed equipment with the hope they could expand the operation and increase their harvesting ability to serve all the communities of the Hawaiian islands.

“Fruit cycling is truly a community run operation,” says Suzanne Freitas, co-founder of WNWN. “It works as long as the volunteers continue to harvest, the fruit tree owners continue to donate and the sponsors continue to supply the tools to make it all possible.”

"This idea is not new, “Village Harvest” of San Jose, California has been cycling fruit since 2001 and last year alone harvested 62.5 tons,” says James Mylenek Sr., co-founder and director of “Waste Not Want Not.”

Village Harvest is a nonprofit volunteer organization in Northern California whose mission is to provide food for the hungry, preserve our heritage and skills, and promote sustainable use of urban resources. They organize and coordinate backyard fruit harvesting, and provide education on fruit tree care, harvesting, and food preservation.

They've become nationally recognized for their large Harvesting for the Hungry (H4H) program, which harvested almost 122,000 lbs. of fruit from local backyards and small orchards in 2008 (and their record 125,000 lbs in 2007). A backyard fruit tree usually produces far more fruit than a household can use themselves, and there is more than enough going to waste from local backyards and farms to provide for the local community’s hungry. They address this food distribution problem by organizing volunteer teams to harvest backyard fruit and donate it to charitable food agencies and organizations.

Village Harvest is a volunteer-run organization, with nearly 500 volunteers contributing their time and talents every year in harvesting, preserving, and education.

Joni and Craig Diserens like to compare Village Harvest, the nonprofit they founded, to a Silicon Valley startup. Craig is marketing and product development consultant to entrepreneurial companies. Joni works for HP and volunteers as Founder and Executive Director for Village Harvest. Joni grew up in Hawaii where the spirit of Ohana (family) makes every mango or lychee tree a community resource each family shares and enjoys. Her passion is connecting sources of abundance to points of scarcity, according to the Village Harvest website

When it started eight years ago with less than two dozen volunteers, Village Harvest collected a modest 5,000 pounds of backyard fruit and distributed them to food agencies that feed the hungry.

In 2008, VH volunteers harvested nearly 122,000 pounds of fruit from over 300 homes, donated directly to food agencies in Santa Clara and Alameda Counties. This year they are already over 91,000 pounds of fruit harvested.

Since their founding in 2001, volunteers have harvested over 750,000 lbs of fruit, over 2 Million nutritious Servings.

Village Harvest has over 1500 homes which have been harvested or requested harvesting assistance, and about 1400 individual volunteers involved.

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