“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.’”
~ Leviticus 19:9-10
Most Memphians are not farmers and have not been able to perform this mitzvah—until now.
Last spring, the Beth Sholom Tikkun Olam committee began to glean on behalf of others. But instead of roaming through fields, a group of dedicated volunteers glean from the stalls of farmers at the Agricenter Farmer’s Market who are willing to donate leftover produce at the end of the day.
By the end of September, the Beth Sholom gleaners had gathered nearly 2,000 pounds of produce. The produce is given to Jewish Family Service (JFS) and distributed to seniors along with JFS’ frozen meals.
“Our clients look forward to it,” says Teresa Hughes of JFS. “They receive fresh cantaloupes, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, peaches, eggplant and sweet potatoes. We include information on how to prepare it, too.”
“Fresh fruit and vegetables are a real treat for these seniors,” says Beth Sholom Tikkun Olam Committee Chair Susan Moinester. “We’re helping to feed between 30 and 50 families.
“It is so joyous,” she says “We go to the Agricenter and the vendors are delightful. It’s an easy, feel-good mitzvah that has such great benefits.”
The project is part of a national Gleaning Network operated by the Society of St. Andrew, which is committed to ending hunger through gleaning leftover crops for people in need. Susan works with six regular volunteers: Debra Pelz, Mindy Lipson, Carol Kloville and Susan Alexander. They arrive at the Agricenter every Wednesday (except for Jewish holidays) at 4:30 p.m. The group collects 130 pounds of produce a week on average, and delivers it to JFS, which packs it to deliver with its kosher frozen meals on Thursdays and Fridays. Every vendor’s contribution is weighed, and vendors are credited a JFS donation.
“On behalf of Jewish Family Service, I want to extend a great big thank you to Beth Sholom for helping us help our seniors,” says Teresa. “We really appreciate it.”
Beth Sholom continued to glean through the end of October, and will resume the project in the spring. For more information or to volunteer, visit http://www.bsholom.org/tikkunolam.