More than 50 volunteers gleaned the surplus fruit from a mandarin grove in Goleta over the weekend as families, college clubs, and kids on probation worked with the Backyard Bounty and Food Forward programs to gather thousands of pounds of ripe fruit that will be distributed to the less fortunate through Santa Barbara’s Foodbank. “[The Foodbank] distributed 9.3 million pounds of food last year, and half of it was fresh produce,” said Alexa Senter, gleaning coordinator for Backyard Bounty. “It’s really pretty progressive.”
With the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables available during winter, the Foodbank relies on these efforts to harvest Santa Barbara County’s abundance of winter-ripening fruits. Working with everyone from commercial orchards to elderly folks who can no longer manage their backyard trees, the organization is able to collect food that would traditionally be considered waste because of bruises, bugs, or weather damage.