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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


USDA Announces Fall Harvest Gleaning from Research Labs

By Jim Henry
November 24, 1998

Volunteer gleaners have harvested 27 tons of fresh tomatoes and 12 tons of corn and other fresh produce from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Beltsville Agricultural Research Center this fall.

The 7,000-acre Beltsville center is the largest of the nearly 100 research locations of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service.

"It doesn't surprise me to see employees setting an example by volunteering to work side by side with homeless people, high school students and community groups to recover food to feed the hungry," said Floyd P. Horn, ARS administrator. "By taking part in the Department's Food Recovery and Gleaning Initiative begun in 1997, the Beltsville research farm is setting an example for the nation's private farms as well."

The Beltsville bounty included green beans, squash and cucumbers along with tomatoes and corn. Horn said more than half the food went to Food for Others, of Fairfax, Va. "This organization feeds as many as 800 people a night at 15 sites in northern Virginia," Horn said. "It supplies food to about 50 other organizations in the metropolitan Washington area."

Fresh produce from Beltsville also was harvested by the Washington Area Gleaning Network. The group distributed the food to the Capital Area Community Food Bank in Washington, Maryland Food Bank, Inc., plus soup kitchens, shelters and housing projects in the Baltimore-Washington region.

Capital Area Community Food Bank and Maryland Food Bank redistribute the produce to a total of 950 feeding programs.

"Hundreds of people eat this produce daily. It may show up on the table as side dishes or in salads or soups at places like Martha's Table in D.C.," Horn said. He cited gleaning activities by other ARS labs:

  • The New England Plant, Soil and Water Laboratory, Orono, Me., provided about 50 tons of potatoes this year largely through the efforts of an agricultural class at Nokomis Regional High School, Newport, Me. Students themselves gleaned 45 tons, sending 4 tons to Honduran victims of Hurricane Mitch. Each year the class also gives the lab's potatoes to a local food kitchen and other organizations for Thanksgiving and holiday baskets. In addition, ARS employees at the lab gleaned and delivered 5 tons of potatoes to Manna, Inc., in Bangor, Me.

"These are just a few examples of just one USDA agency's contribution to gleaning," Horn said. "USDA employees from other agencies help in both the Beltsville gleaning activities and in similar gleaning and recovery programs throughout the country, on private as well as public farms and in restaurants, cafeterias, supermarkets, warehouses and farmers' markets.

Gleaned foods from Beltsville and other ARS locations were grown in research studies aimed at solving significant problems in food production and quality. The donated foods were not part of pesticide trials and are completely safe for human consumption.

More information about national organizations, their affiliates and independent groups in food recovery and gleaning can be found at a USDA web site at:


The department also has a toll-free gleaning hotline, "800-GLEAN-IT."

Media Contact: Jim Henry, ARS Information Staff, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Room 1-2551, Beltsville MD 20705-5128, (301) 504-1611,

Last Modified: 8/22/2017
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