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Rolling Harvest Food Rescue: The New Face of Hunger

Rolling Harvest Food Rescue: The New Face of Hunger

Bucks County, located about fifty miles outside of Philadelphia, is a historic county adorned with old stone cottages and new age mansions built atop storybook like landscapes. This beautiful Pennsylvania county is home to tight-knit communities, nationally recognized school districts, and artistic towns that charm those who visit.

However, there is about 65,000 food insecure or 10% of the county’s residents who do not know where their next meal is coming from. Men, women, children, veterans, seniors, and everyone in between are affected by the worldwide hunger epidemic, even those who are living in higher income areas. This issue was brought to life in Bucks County back in 2010 by a kind-hearted woman named Cathy Snyder.

Cathy, a Bucks County Native, experienced this issue with her own eyes when she was volunteering at the local Fisherman’s Mark food pantry. Not only was she taken aback by who was coming to the food pantry, but also what the pantry was providing.

“I very quickly realized there is such an inequality of how people eat,” Cathy stated after noticing that struggling individuals and families only have access to processed and canned foods. “How can this be in such a rich country and such a prosperous neighborhood?”

Cathy’s experience at the food pantry that day eight years ago inspired her to start an organization called Rolling Harvest Food Rescue. Rolling Harvest Food Rescue was created to give hungry people in local counties (Bucks, Hunterdon, and Mercer to name a few) nutritional food and produce that they normally would not be able to afford or have access to through a food pantry.

Rolling Harvest Food Rescue

One of Cathy’s first, and on-going, goals for Rolling Harvest is “…to make sure no perfectly good food is going to waste when it can be rescued and distributed to hungry people.” Cathy began asking vendors at local markets to donate their unused produce. “That didn’t work,” Cathy said. So, she went to plan B – going to local farms and asking them directly if she could take the food that was going to compost. Luckily many farmers agreed, and the organization blossomed from there. Today, 35 farms contribute their produce, meats, and other goods to Rolling Harvest.

The farmers have been amazing. I am constantly in awe of their community spirit,” Cathy states. “The farmers have been so inspired that they are growing actual food for us [instead of just donating their produce going to compost].” Their continued generosity helps over 60 hunger relief sites in local communities including shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, low-income senior housing programs, veteran programs, and many more. The passion and dedication of the farmers is a huge part of Rolling Harvest’s success, but another large factor that keeps Rolling Harvest rolling is its volunteers.

“Pressing issues within the community really takes everyone coming together in the community to fix the problem,” Cathy notes. Along with the organization’s 35 farm partners, Rolling Harvest has been able to attract about 130 volunteers to dedicate their time and energy to help fix the hunger problem in this area. Volunteers help with food and produce pick-up routines from participating farms, assist with weekly food distributions to the hunger relief sites, and also help glean.

According to the Rolling Harvest website, “Gleaning is harvesting surplus crops directly from the farmers’ fields to share with neighbors in need.” This is simply another great way for the organization to gather and provide as much food and produce as possible to distribute to those in need.

Education & Food Waste

A new program that volunteers are assisting with is weekly nutrition education. At some of the hunger relief sites, volunteers allow consumers to taste test products before taking, and will educate the consumer on what the product is and how it should be prepared. This program was put in place to help prevent waste among consumers. For example, if a consumer is used to eating canned and processed foods that require little to no preparation and is then handed a bushel of romanesco, there is a good chance they will not know what this product is or how it should be prepared. So, to prevent the consumers from throwing this product away, Rolling Harvest decided to educate.

Since 2010, Rolling Harvest has been working hard to create and grow the organization. Thus far they have mastered food education, gleaning, and farm pick-up routines all resulting in a staggering 1.8 million pounds of rescued food for the hungry. “That is just scratching the surface,” Cathy said. In order to continue providing this amount of food, and hopefully more, Rolling Harvest has plans to branch out and work with other partners to optimize their outreach. The organization also plans to deliver food and produce to even more hunger relief sites in surrounding areas.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Rolling Harvest and their new endeavors, visit for information on volunteering opportunities. The Rolling Harvest website can also provide you more information about their mission, their partners, how to donate, and more!

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Lindsey Czajkowski works as a Design Coordinator at the Free People home office. Her interest in fashion influenced her move to Philadelphia, but the delicious food scene, diversity, and opportunity within Philly is what made Lindsey immerse herself in the city. You’re likely to find Lindsey at work in the Navy Yard in South Philly, out to eat around Northern Liberties, or shopping in Center City or in a park trying to pet a strangers dog. View all posts by Lindsey Czajkowski
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