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Feeding Iowans Task Force Launches Initiative to Recover Unharvested Produce to Provide Hunger Relief


June 24, 2020
Nicki Ross
Table to Table Food Rescue
Executive Director
Iowa City, Iowa

Betsy Shelton
Volunteer Iowa
Communications & Engagement Officer
515.348.6228 / 800.308.5987

Feeding Iowans Task Force Launches Initiative to Recover Unharvested Produce to Provide Hunger Relief

DES MOINES, Iowa – A new Iowa gleaning initiative led by the Feeding Iowans Task Force working group will provide fresh produce to Iowans in need. With an increased number of Iowans suffering the economic effects of COVID-19, access to free, nutritious food is more important than ever. The Iowa Gleaning Network is looking for volunteers, farmers, AmeriCorps members, and hunger relief organizations willing to be host sites to help in the effort to harvest food, fight hunger, and build community.

“The needs of those who are food insecure have grown significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Chair of the Feeding Iowans Task Force. “Once again the Feeding Iowans Task Force and its partners have found a creative way to help hungry Iowans by leveraging Iowa’s extensive agricultural ties and developing mini-supply chains within our state.”

As much as 10 percent of food grown in the U.S. is left in the field due to grocery store visual standards. This leaves the produce without a market and the labor costs to harvest and distribute these crops may be insufficient for the return. At the same time, more than 300,000 Iowans do not have enough money to cover their basic food needs. Gleaning programs offer a creative solution. Volunteers harvest leftover produce that’s perfectly good to eat and donate it to local hunger relief organizations. With volunteer support, farmers don’t incur labor costs and can receive a tax credit for donating crops that would otherwise go to waste.

“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve seen countless examples of Iowans stepping up to help others in need,” said Secretary Naig. “This gleaning program is just one way Iowa specialty crop producers are partnering with others to get fresh, locally-grown produce to food insecure families in their communities.”

Farm gleaning partnerships expand access to fresh, nutritious produce for Iowans who are food insecure. The Iowa Gleaning Network was established during the COVID-19 crisis to assist with program staffing and volunteer recruitment, help Iowa’s hunger relief organizations fill gaps in existing gleaning programs, and launch new gleaning initiatives across the state. With the support of ISU Extension, Volunteer Iowa, and other members of the Feeding Iowans Task Force, this new network will offer eight AmeriCorps members to support multiple statewide gleaning initiatives operated locally by hunger relief organizations.

Hunger relief organizations can sign up to partner as a host site for an AmeriCorps gleaning coordinator to develop existing or new gleaning initiatives. Interested organizations can apply to participate using this survey:

Individuals looking for a service opportunity can apply to lead the network as an AmeriCorps VISTA Iowa Gleaning Program Development Coordinator HERE, or for a summer or 12-month position as an AmeriCorps local gleaning coordinator HERE (positions available across the state).

Community members who want to volunteer to harvest produce can reach out to The Iowa Gleaning Network at to find a local gleaning operation.

Iowa farmers who grow produce are needed as partners to donate produce to their local hunger relief organizations by allowing volunteers to glean surplus, edible food from their fields. For more information, please contact The Iowa Gleaning Network at: or call 319-337-3400.

For more information about any of these opportunities, to become a host site, farm partner, gleaning volunteer, or AmeriCorps member, email

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About Volunteer Iowa

Volunteer Iowa and its partner agencies work with organizations and individuals on three main fronts. The first is to help agencies develop quality programs that use service as a strategy to fulfill their missions and address Iowa’s greatest areas of need. The second is to help engage Iowans in their communities by promoting service and expanding the volunteer base. Finally, the third area of work is to connect individuals
with appropriate service opportunities by building the volunteer infrastructure. More information is available at