Harvesters Community Food Network represents a successful demonstration of how the private sector can help meet the needs of poor members of our society.
Harvesters was created in 1979 by a coalition of business people, faith leaders and social service agencies. It grew from the recognition that a tremendous amount of potentially nutritious food was going into landfills because of manufacturing issues and impending sell-by dates. Harvesters was formed to get that food to those in need.
Over the years Harvesters has organized the donation and distribution of these products, as well as packaged goods collected in food drives and prepared but uneaten foods from restaurants and institutional preparers.
All of these products are collected and organized at Harvesters’ central warehouse and distributed to emergency food pantries, community kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes and similar institutions. Harvesters also offers educational programs covering hunger awareness and nutrition. Its main warehouse is in Kansas City with an ancillary one in Topeka.
Today Harvesters feeds nearly 100,000 children a year through its network of food pantries, food kitchens and shelters. It also provides over 20,000 BackSnacks every weekend and 450,000 after-school meals. There are also programs for families and seniors.
In its first year of operation Harvesters distributed 155,000 pounds of food. Today, that number is over 45 million pounds.
Mitchell Capital’s Rich Jones sits on the Harvesters Advisory Board after being involved in the organization for 25 years. He points out that beside contributions of food, Harvesters welcomes contributions of money as well. One dollar will pay for five meals.
You can learn how to become involved at harvesters.org.