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Surplus from Science Helps Feed the Hungry
By Jim De Quattro
September 15, 1997
Twenty-one tons of fresh tomatoes for the hungry are among this year’s tasty, nutritious--and little-known--surpluses from crop experiments and dietary studies at research labs of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.
Gleaning of high-quality foods left over from studies is among the food recovery efforts to be highlighted Sept. 15, when Vice President Gore and Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman kick off a two-day National Summit on Food Recovery and Gleaning in Washington, D.C.
Just a few miles north of Washington at ARS’ Beltsville (Md.) Agricultural Research Center, 52,000 pounds of fresh produce have been provided so far this year to a feed-the-hungry group. This included 43,000 pounds of tomatoes as well as corn, cantaloupes, peppers and potatoes.
The food was distributed to Food for Others, Fairfax, Va. The organization feeds as many as 700 people at night at 14 sites in northern Virginia, and supplies food to about 40 other organizations in the metropolitan Washington area.
In April, when flooding devastated Grand Forks, N.D., ARS’ Human Nutrition Research Center located there was not spared. But the center quickly gave away frozen food on hand, including more than 800 pounds of meat and dozens of cases of cheese, produce, juice and bread products. A school-turned-shelter in nearby Thompson, N.D., supplied the food to people displaced from their homes by flooding. In addition, the nutrition center has donated surplus food to Grand Forks City Mission since 1970. Volunteers in the center’s diet studies eat a prescribed diet, and the mission receives leftover cans and packages of items ranging from cereal to vegetables to powdered drinks.
Other gleaning efforts at ARS labs around the country include:
- Since late May, the Subtropical Agricultural Research Center, Weslaco, Texas, has donated 2,160 pounds of cucumbers and 1,710 pounds of tomatoes to the Food Bank of Rio Grande Valley, McAllen, Texas.
- The U.S. National Arboretum, Washington, D.C., supplied D.C. Central Kitchen with 400 pounds of fresh produce. It was excess from the arboretum’s Youth Garden, in which about 100 local youngsters grow vegetables for home use.
- The Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory Research Unit, East Lansing, Mich., donates up to 100,000 eggs to the Greater Lansing Food Bank each year.
- In the past 2 years, the Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, Fresno, Calif., has donated about 1,500 pounds of almonds, 2,000 pounds of raisins and 2,000 pounds of walnuts to homeless shelters and food distribution centers in Fresno.