This past Saturday, I stopped by the Mill Valley General Store to learn about Gather Baltimore. They are a non-profit org. that with the help of a volunteer crew works to provide affordable healthful food to communities in need. Gather Baltimore does this by intercepting food (viable, perfectly edible food) rejected by groceries and left over from farmers markets, and even direct from the farm, and resorting and stocking “Blue Bags” that are available for $6 each.
I was quickly and enthusiastically greeted and introduced around, there were several volunteers already working when I arrived. Emma (the Volunteer Coordinator) set me up working with another lady sorting potatoes. We worked quickly sorting out bad potatoes(there were very few) from the good ones and bagging them, in the thin plastic bags like in the Produce Department of any grocery store. 4 Large or up to 8 small. First regular potatoes, then red potatoes, we chatted and bagged, moving on to parsnips, carrots, and onions.
Really there was not a large amount of waste, I was shocked, if this food hadn’t been collected by Gather Baltimore it would have been trash!
My potato partner had to leave but I stayed, this was intriguing, I wanted to learn more. There are two (older) but large walk in refrigerators, one seemed a bit older and possibly on it’s last leg, where the sorted food is stored.
I continued sorting a variety of produce as did the other 6-7 volunteers, as the bins of each item filled up we created an assembly area which is where the Blue Bags came in! (I feel like this may have been the most exciting part) Every bag got one of each item. Heavy and sturdy produce on the bottom, potatoes, carrots, onions. Then bags of beans, peas, asparagus, lettuces, and squash. And Last Fruit!
These Blue Bags are HEAVY (easily 30pounds, and remember only $6)
As the end of the 4hours came closer the sorting and pre-prep finished, boxes that had been emptied were broken down for recycling, a pallet of waste(food) was loaded out to go to composting, and the last of the Blue Bags were filled. 75 Blue Bags were filled.
We were a little sweaty, smiling and I felt so great. I was honored to get to be a part of something so honest and good. Oh, yeah and I took home a Blue Bag.
I have Shared some of my goodies, and done some awesome meal making.