A smart way to address hunger
(This editorial originally appeared in the Dunn Daily Record.)
A Harnett County sweet potato patch is not the usual place to find a U.S. senator, yet that’s exactly where Elizabeth Dole was recently. She was advancing a cause she has advocated for years, the gleaning of fields for the hungry.
With the help of about 40 volunteers with the Society of St. Andrew, she gleaned sweet potatoes in a 3.5-acre field owned by Ted Honeycutt of Angier.
Local residents Gerry Sutton, Ronny Langdon and Graham Langdon, who comprise McGee’s Crossroads’ Brookhill Farms and lease the potato patch from Honeycutt, helped coordinate the event through Diane Bittikofer, chairman of the Durham chapter of the Society of St. Andrew.
Volunteers, including children from Fayetteville’s Academy of World Changers, sported gray T-shirts which read, ‘‘Leviticus 19:10, Leave the gleanings for the poor and the aliens in your land.’’
Said Sen. Dole, ‘‘I began gleaning a little over two years ago and consider this an excellent cause to help fight hunger.’’ She has supported the society since its founding in 1983.
Said Patricia Lounsberry, chairman of the Fayetteville chapter of the Society of St. Andrew, ‘‘I have been with this organization for nearly 10 years now. We have gleaned such produce as collards, strawberries, blueberries, peaches and tomatoes and together these help the poverty-stricken.’’
Gleaning is an innovative way to supply food to those in need. And according to farmers, the activity can be highly productive. ‘‘In two days, the volunteers gathered more than 4,000 pounds of potatoes in a two-day period,’’ Ronny Langdon said.
The Society of St. Andrew has now salvaged and distributed 500 million pounds of food.
For her part, Dole is seeking to enact the Hunger Relief Trucking Tax Credit Act, which would create a 25-cent tax credit for each mile food is being transported for a charity by a donated truck and driver for hunger relief efforts. This would encourage the trucking industry to help fight the war on hunger.
In America, 27 percent of all food produced annually is lost at the retail, consumer and food service levels. This would constitute nearly 3,044 pounds of marketable food every second.
So gleaning that food is a smart response to hunger. It’s also a biblical concept; when a famine took place in Bethlehem, Ruth gleaned so her family could survive.
Gleaning continues to help people survive today. Dole is to be commended for bringing attention to this smart anti-hunger strategy.
It was also good to have her back in Harnett County.