Key Donors are Vital with Thurston County Food Bank
Thurston County Food Bank (TCFB) has been gleaning between 40 and 60,000 lbs of produce each year, thanks to a few key donors. TCFB works primarily with six growers (5 small-scale commercial farms and 1 service club that grows solely for the food bank). In TCFB’s experience, gleaning programs don’t need many donors, but rather key donors. TCFB currently has set gleaning days scheduled with several farms. Having a set schedule is easier on the farmer, the coordinator, and the volunteers.
Remember that not all donors are the same. Let sites know that they have a variety of ways to donate. Examples include field gleaning, cull-gleaning, market or farm pick-ups, and drop-offs at your organization. Find the right method for the right farm and help make the process as simple as possible for them.
Be consistent with donors. If you say you are going to do something or be somewhere, keep your word. Keeping donors happy is the most important aspect of a gleaning program. It is helpful to keep an organized folder of gleaning site profiles for each farm or garden your organization has a relationship with, and keep notes about their preferred method of contact, farm specifics, directions, etc.
TCFB has organized over 90 events this year. The gleaning coordinator, or another paid staff person, has attended nearly every event. This is to ensure that farms and relationships are respected. Volunteers can easily make mistakes that can become deal breakers for growers. Be specific with volunteers and be mindful of their work.