This winter and spring, the Hope’s Harvest RI team has been quite busy behind the scenes preparing for the launch of the new gleaning season. Here’s a look at some of what’s been going on. Over the last few months HHRI has been:
- Seeking funding to support and expand our work. We’re honored to have been awarded a COVID-19 Response Fund Grant of $20,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island to allow us to purchase safety equipment, put more people to work harvesting local produce, and provide financial support to local farmers in exchange for their surplus, to result in an additional 4,000 pounds of healthy, fresh, locally-grown food distributed to our hunger relief agency partners. The award complements a $10,000 grant received earlier this year from the MAV Foundation to contract with farmers to grow food specifically for food pantries.
- Developing new safety procedures and protocols in response to the COVID-19 crisis and enhanced food safety requirements, to ensure that our staff are well trained and prepared and that our volunteers and farm and agency partners are safe.
- Hosting a virtual volunteer orientation to review these new procedures with new and returning volunteers. If you’d like to glean with us this season, be sure to view the orientation and take the follow-up quiz, both of which are mandatory for ALL volunteers this year. Volunteers who have completed these steps, watch for information about our first gleaning trip coming in the next few weeks!
- Connecting with and confirming partner farms and agencies for the season, updating our systems so that data can be tracked thoroughly and effectively, and gathering new equipment and supplies – including purchasing a new truck for transporting harvested produce!
- Supporting partner organizations like Southside Community Land Trust by helping to distribute seeds and seedlings to food pantries, and developing an important new partnership with URI Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener program.
- Big picture, Hope’s Harvest RI leadership has been working on developing a strategic direction for the next several years, which includes revisiting and assessing the organization’s mission, vision and values and establishing goals and objectives. Stay tuned for more information as this process develops!
- And the team has spent much time reflecting on the organization’s role in and commitment to racial justice and addressing systemic inequalities. Learn more here.
While the world around us is changing dramatically, Hope’s Harvest RI remains fully committed to bringing fresh, healthy, locally-grown food to our neighbors in need. Our mission is more vital now than ever.
We’re looking forward to another busy gleaning season, and to working with new and returning volunteers and partners. Thank you for your support and for making this important work possible!