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D.C. Food Pantry Takes Lesson From Old Testament To Feed Hungry

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Kristin Valentine, development director of Bread for the City, hands over a 25 pound box of freshly harvested broccoli to a volunteer.
Mana Rabiee
Kristin Valentine, development director of Bread for the City, hands over a 25 pound box of freshly harvested broccoli to a volunteer.

By Mana Rabiee

The district's largest food pantry is taking a lesson from the Old Testament to feed the hungry.

On the Parker family farm in Colonial Beach, Va., 20 nicely dressed professionals hack away at broccoli plants with kitchen knives.

They're volunteers with a D.C. non-profit called Bread for the City, which partners with local farms for a program called Glean for the City.

Glean for the City collects tens of thousands of pounds fresh fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be thrown out.

Jeffrey Wankel is a volunteer coordinator. "I don't know the scripture, but to sum it up it says that all farmers are obligated to allow the poor and the less fortunate to glean the food from their fields when they're done," says Wankel. "So it's almost a biblical mandate in the Old Testament and that's what farmers should be doing."

Farmer Rod Parker points to neighboring fields with his knife. "Hey, don't skip any rows guys. Get in and fill all these rows," says Parker. He waves the knife around like a machete. "If you brought everybody out here and harvested this field there's a tractor trailer full of produce that's going to be thrown away," says Parker.

Parker would like Glean for the City to take away all of his excess crop but they can only glean a tiny fraction because of limited volunteers and resources.

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