The recycling of paper, plastic and glass has been around for years, but Garfield County residents now are being asked to recycle local produce to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to those who can’t afford them.
LiveWell of Garfield County begins its new “gleaning” program this week that encourages farmers and gardeners to donate their whole, unprocessed products to LIFT-UP and the Senior Nutrition Program. The program aims to “bring together growers, volunteers and nonprofit agencies to provide for the hungry — fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste.”
“This is the first year that we’ve done this and it’s part of our countywide strategy of increasing healthy food access to the entire population, regardless of income,” said Dana Wood, LiveWell Garfield County coordinator.
The program follows legislative passage this year of the Colorado Charitable Crop Donation Act, which gives Colorado food producers a 25 percent tax credit for the wholesale value of all fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat products donated to food banks.
“Colorado’s food banks and pantries have experienced historic demand over the past few years, and much of this demand has come from families and individuals who have been forced to use this safety net for the first time,” the law reads. “Emergency food providers across Colorado have experienced challenges keeping their shelves filled and have often not been able to even provide the basic necessities to those in need.”
So instead of throwing away excess produce or letting it rot in the garden, people are encouraged to gather it up and donate it instead.
“We want people to become more aware of the veggies in our garden and be conscious of the fact that people can give something to somebody in need of it,” Wood said. “Whether they’re growing it, buying it or selling it, instead of going to waste, it will go to people who definitely don’t get enough fresh produce.”
Beginning July 21, donations can be made at locations in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, New Castle and Rifle.
Noreen Nolan, coordinator of the New Castle Farmer’s Market, said the town is participating because it sounds like a good way to make sure everyone has access to healthy food.
“It’s like recycling veggies to the people so everyone can enjoy them,” Nolan said. “I signed up and told our farmers, and they’re all on board with it. I think it’s a worthy cause.”
Produce donations of all sizes will be collected at each manager’s booth at the market locations and taken directly to the closest LIFT-UP location at the end of the day. Donations should be placed in boxes or bags and will be weighed and recorded.
For more information about the gleaning program, contact Wood at (970) 625-5200, ext. 8121, or (970) 389-9510, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.