Gleaning Day

Today, my son and I participated in a gleaning field trip with his school. When I mentioned the upcoming field trip to people in the days leading up to the event, most people didn’t know what the term gleaning meant in relation to harvesting crops.

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. It is a practice described in the Hebrew Bible that became a legally enforced entitlement of the poor in a number of Christian kingdoms.

Today’s gleaning harvest benefits South Florida families facing food insecurity. Current statistics indicate nearly three and a half million Floridians are food insecure, including 1.1 million children. The current estimate for Florida’s population in 2019 is 21.64 million. This means food insecurity affects more than fifteen percent of Florida’s population. On a local level, according to Feeding South Florida, 13.6% percent of Palm Beach County‘s population is food insecure, with 189,940 people not knowing where their next meal will come from. I think you’ll agree, these statistics are staggering.

Another aspect of this morning’s gleaning project I need to mention is this. This morning’s weather was around 80 degrees and sunny. While 80 degrees may seem almost temperate to most, I can tell you that while picking peppers this morning, I was quite literally drenched in sweat as were the other parents, teachers and children. My clothing was soaked and the sweat was running into my eyes. I could not wipe the sweat from my brow fast enough. Can you imaging picking vegetables day in and day out as your vocation, especially in the dead of a South Florida summer? I can’t; but 150,000 to 200,000 migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families annually travel and work in Florida to harvest our fruits and vegetables. I implore you to remember this and offer up a prayer of thanks the next time you’re enjoying a delicious piece of fruit or fresh vegetable.

I’m so proud of our school–the kids, teachers and my fellow parents. Together, we gleaned one ton of peppers for our local food charities.

I promise you, after this morning’s field trip, I have an entirely new appreciation for my food and where it comes from. I hope you will too.

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