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A different kind of Thanksgiving food drive

Lisa Varano, staff writer

October 5, 2010 — People turning to food banks this Thanksgiving will have a side of fresh, not canned, vegetables.

Collecting vegetables that didn't get harvested
Collecting vegetables that didn't get harvested

Farmers have donated their fields and volunteers have donated their time. They've teamed up to help food banks stock fresh vegetables for Thanksgiving.

The weather was ideal for the growing season in Ontario this year. The harvest is over but it was so abundant that vegetables are still left in the fields. There was simply too much to be collected.

What's left on the land would have been thrown away or tilled back into the soil. Instead, volunteers are picking vegetables from 20 farms in Ontario.

An old process called gleaning is now a new way of putting fresh food on the tables of people turning to food banks this Thanksgiving.

All these peppers are going to the food bank
All these peppers are going to the food bank

“It's getting those crops that would otherwise get ploughed back into the earth and getting them into the system to needy families and on their tables fresh in time for Thanksgiving,” said Rob Comstock, who was volunteering with others from a company at Whittamore's Farm in Markham, Ontario, on Tuesday.

The goal is to collect 500,000 pounds of fresh vegetables in Ontario this month.

“About 25 million pounds of fresh, edible food ... are left on the vine or sent to landfill, and it's a shame that food can't all be harvested,” said Ed Borkowski of the Ontario Association of Food Banks.

He said 375,000 people use food banks in Ontario each month. About 70 per cent of low-income Ontarians don't have access to the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.

What will the weather be like in your area on Thanksgiving next Monday? Check the Thanksgiving Day forecast.

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