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Posted by Nick Dutton - email
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTOL) - The holidays are just around the corner, and area food banks are already seeing more families needing help.
There are thousands of pounds of food going to waste right here in Northwest Ohio, but volunteers are looking to change that.
Jerry Barker is a self proclaimed "city kid" spending the day under the trees at Hoen's apple orchard.
He's collecting the apples, then filling the crates for area food pantries.
"I know there are others out there less fortunate and, they need food too," he said. "So I'm out here to help."
The 16-year-old is one of a handful of volunteers gleaning the "leftovers."
They're stretching high and bending low looking for apples that are still good, but didn't quite make harvest.
After hours of plucking the branches and searching the ground, volunteers gather an estimated 14-thousand pounds of apples.
These crates are then loaded up and shipped to area food banks, who have seen dramatic increases of demand in recent months.
Debbie Vas, from Toledo Seagate Food Bank, says, "Families who struggle to make their food stamps or money stretch are telling us they just don't have enough to go around, and fresh fruits and vegetables are lacking in their own diets."
Even Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur got in on the gleaning.
She says there are many more farms just like this one with food that will just go to waste unless volunteers offer a hand.
"Many hands mean light work," she says, "and we know the need is growing, and this a community that knows how to help one another through tough times."
If you have excess crops, or you're interested in volunteering to glean, contact the Toledo Seagate Food Bank at 419-244-6996.