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Local volunteers aid food banks on Commonwealth Day of Gleaning

Quintin DeGroot, 14, of Stephens City gleans green beans on Thursday at Marker-Miller Orchard Farm in Frederick County. Quintin joined about two dozen other gleaners gathering food for area food banks on a day that Gov. Bob McDonnell had proclaimed as Commonwealth Day of Gleaning, Linda Ash/Daily (Buy photo)

By Linda Ash -- lash@nvdaily.com

About two dozen volunteers gathered on a beautiful August morning at Marker-Miller Orchard Farm in Frederick County on Thursday to pick green beans for area food banks.

The day -- a special one for gleaners across the state -- had been proclaimed by Gov. Bob McDonnell as Commonwealth Day of Gleaning.  

In his proclamation, McDonnell noted that "each year there are large quantities of unclaimed farm crops that are nutritional and perfectly good to eat, but are not sold into commercial channels because they either do not meet the aesthetic requirements for retail sale or because harvesting missed them in the field...

"...our Commonwealth is seeking creative ways to bring food and families together, and one solution to the problem of food access is to glean and salvage the best of the unclaimed food and make it available to those who need it most by coordinating all of the parties involved in food distribution."

Gleanings were set up at several farms throughout the state for the Day of Gleaning, and representatives of area food pantries, the Society of St. Andrew and first lady Maureen McDonnell's FLITE Team participated.

The effort in Frederick County was coordinated by Betty Heishman of the Society of St. Andrew. Louise Shickle of Frederick County, one of 100 women in Virginia selected to be on the first lady's FLITE Team, was present to pull vines and pluck green beans bound for a local food bank. 

Shickle said the gleaning effort was an important aspect of the first lady's FLITE initiative, which according to Mrs. McDonnell's website, first lady.governor.virginia.gov/initiatives/flite, recognizes programs, activities, organizations, or individuals who embody the ideal of'getting involved and giving back.'"

Heishman said food gleaned by volunteers here go to food banks and pantries within a 90-mile radius of Winchester.

Heishman, who oversees gleanings several times a week during the summer and fall months for St. Andrew, offered volunteers some tips on Thursday.

"Everybody getting the hang of it?" Heishman called out. "Just pull the vine out and you won't have to stoop over."

For more information about the Society of St. Andrew, visit www.endhunger.org

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