What We Are Thankful For

On November 15th, 2015, Harvest Club contributors came together to enjoy a special meal just for them!

November is the perfect time of year to sit with those you care about and share what you are grateful for over a wonderful meal. It’s fitting then that the Harvest Club had an opportunity to do just that. Last Saturday, our wonderful Harvest Club Captains, Growers, and Harvesters, joined us for a special lunch, allowing us to express how thankful we are to have their help in ending hunger in Orange County.

It was a great event! Our amazing Harvest Captains and generous Growers came together and shared stores with our volunteers about past harvests.  Some fantastic homemade goodies were brought to share before left overs were divided off and sent home with everyone.

It was great to see everyone and meet some new faces! But I would also like to express the Harvest Club’s gratitude to all our contributors, not just those that joined us at lunch last weekend. So far this year, the Harvest Club has donated over 115,000 servings of fresh produce to local food banks. We wouldn’t be able to do that without the support of each and everyone one of you. Thank you!

A Generous Gift

Amazing things are happening this fall at the Harvest Club! We are excited to announce a wonderful new partnership with the Assistance League of Santa Ana.

The Assistance League of Santa Ana is a local non-profit dedicated to helping the Santa Ana community and greater Orange County area through volunteer work. We were pleasantly surprised when they reached out to OC Food Access Coalition, looking to help us in our efforts of ending hunger in Orange County. To do so, they equipped us with $1,500 worth of brand new harvesting equipment!

Donated Equipment

On October 10th, the Assistance League will continue to give back to the Harvest Club by putting the new equipment to good use at a harvest and garden maintenance in Santa Ana. It means so much to us to receive this wonderful gift from such an established and generous group. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We look forward to seeing you at the harvest and working more with you in the future!

If you would like to know more about the Assistance League of Santa Ana, check out their website! http://www.assistkids.org/ps.home.cfm?ID=2436

A Sweet Summer for the Harvest Club

Summer as a season can be pretty sweet. The kids are off from school, fresh fruit is available in abundance, and the cool ocean breeze invites us to escape the heat. For the Harvest Club, this summer was particularly sweet. Between June and August, the harvest club picked over 20,000 pounds of fresh food!

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As awesome as that is, it gets even better. In the first week of August, we were proud to announce that in its entire lifetime the Harvest Club has picked over 200,000 pounds! That’s enough to feed more than half a million people in our community!

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Because of that, this post is a shout out to all of you! It is because of our growers, harvesters, and supporters that we have made it this far. Whether you harvest with us every month, or shared your fruit with us once a couple years ago, everyone here at the Harvest Club gives you a huge thank you!

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Abundance in 2014

Written by volunteer Pamela Stone:

Harvest Club volunteers and donors can wave goodbye to 2014 with the sweet knowledge that their work yielded a staggering 52,000 pounds of delicious and nutritious produce for families across Orange County.

This 52,000 pound figure represents the largest annual collection yet in our five years of work as the Harvest Club. Nine hundred active Harvest Club volunteers contributed more than 1,650 hours to yield 2014’s life-affirming bounty.

Congratulations and a hearty thank you to our organizers, pickers, and drivers, and to the generous land, tree, and garden owners who elected to share their crops.

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In 2015 we’re looking forward to many new partnerships like the one recently begun with young people from Garden Grove’s Pacifica High School. Led by biology teacher Steve Doucette and Get Inspired’s own Nancy Caruso, the Pacifica High School group collected over 200 pounds of fruit and produce during one weekend in December. The group then distributed their harvest to local families through the Orange County Food Bank and a women’s shelter.

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We welcome the new year and ponder: how many more partnerships…how many more pounds…how many more people picking produce and promoting prosperity? Potential!

Kindred Spirits Break Harvest Record!

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With every harvest The Harvest Club program completes, we are able to provide more and more fresh produce to those who are food insecure in the Orange County community. Last year, we harvested over 50,000 lbs of produce, amounting to an average of over 4,000 lbs of backyard fruit delivered to food pantries, soup kitchens, children’s homes and senior centers. This year have already reached 40,000 pounds of produce collected and distributed to the hungry in only six months! We are very excited to have met this milestone and want to thank the volunteers from Kindred Community Church.

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We couldn’t have reached this number without their hard work harvesting in Villa Park this June. The Kindred Community Church’s youth group and group leaders teamed up with our wonderful Harvest Captain, Dave, to bring in the largest harvest since The Harvest Club program’s establishment in 2009. This team brought in 2,900 POUNDS OF ORANGES! 

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This produce was delivered by our dedicated Harvest Captain to the Saddleback Church Food Pantry and will feed over 7,700 people in the area! We are so grateful for the helpful hearts and hands Kindred Community Church has offered us two years in a row and we look forward to future work together.

If you are interested in becoming a harvester or Harvest Captain with our organization please email us at volunteer@theharvestclub.org

 

Gleaning With Google!

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This past Thursday was an exciting day for The Harvest Club program of The Orange County Food Access Coalition! We had the pleasure of being selected as a volunteer opportunity for our local Google chapter. Google employees came out to harvest at the Rancho Las Lomas Zoological Garden to harvest hundreds of pounds of oranges to feed the hungry in OC.

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Google believes in giving back! During the month of June, Google Serve occurs, which is a week where Googlers will engage in community volunteer opportunities. Last year Google employees volunteered over 50,000 hours! Click here to learn more.

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Our friends from Google got to pick fruit and interact with alpacas, llamas and even tigers on the gorgeous property in Silverado Canyon.

We are so grateful for all of the hard work our local Google Irvine harvesters brought to the field! Their efforts results in 535 lbs of fresh, organic oranges going to local Orange County food assistance establishments including South County Outreach, The Orange County AIDS Services Foundation and Families Forward.

A big THANK YOU to Google for gleaning with us!

If you know of any corporate groups who are interested in joining us in service please have them contact us at volunteer@theharvestclub.org

A Celebration of Pollination is Coming!

OC Food Access Coalition will be having a Celebration of Pollination on March 26th, 2014 at the new Frida Cinema in downtown Santa Ana. We will be hosting a private screening of Disneynature’s Wings of Life and also have the director in house for a Q&A session after the film. This is an opportunity for those in Orange County to experience the beauty of pollinators and learn more about how we can take preemptive measures to ensure the health and resilience of these creatures.

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The Disneynature film Wings of Life was originally theatrically released in France under the title, Pollen and in the United Kingdom as Hidden Beauty: A Love Story That Feeds the Earth. Wings of Life was director by Emmy-nominated cinematographer and director Louie Schwartzberg. Louie is known for his stunning time-lapse cinematography. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the last 30 years, this artist has captured the beautiful secrets which occur between flowering plants and winged beings. Through Wings of Life, Louie introduces viewers to the more than 1,500 species of pollinators which bring us the fruits and vegetables we consume every day.

Everything from jars of golden honey to boxes of juicy oranges is created from the hard work of bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and bats. These productive creatures are responsible for 1/3 of the crops consumed in The United States. Honeybees alone produced an estimated $19 billion in produce in 2010. This “loves story that feeds the Earth” is threatened by things such as colony collapse disorder and habitat loss all over the world.

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At our private screening you will be able to ask Louie Schwartzberg and local experts about pollinators and also see what The Harvest Club is doing to help keep pollinators buzzing!

To learn more about our Celebration of Pollination & purchase tickets visit: www.ocfoodaccess.org/wol

(Above statistics were provided by www.fws.gov. To learn more about pollinators click here )

MLK Tree Scout Day

 

mlkdayOC Food Access Coalition will be having a Harvest Club event in honor of the Martin Luther King Day of Service on January 18th, 2014. The Martin Luther King Day of Service was created in 1994 by congress, and has been led by the Corporation for National and Community Service ever since. The MLK Day of Service is a call for community action, allowing individuals to help solve social problems in their communities through service. It is placed at the beginning of the year to encourage citizens to start their new year by giving to others.

The Harvest Club will be bringing community members together in an effort to scout local food sources in Orange County neighborhoods on January 18th. The MLK Tree Scout Day will also enable individuals and groups to connect with locals about food security and local produce.A combination of faith-based, academic and social groups in the area have signed up to take part. Our wonderful volunteers will be scouting neighborhoods in Tustin, Orange and Santa Ana.

We are very excited to see the fruits of their labor and spread the message of healthy, sustainable, affordable food for all that OC Food Access Coalition is all about.

If you are interested in attending the MLK Day of Service Tree Scouting Day with us please send an email to volunteer@theharvestclub.org

For more information about the MLK Day of Service visit www.mlkday.gov

Fun Food Fact #8: Peanuts Can Blow Your Mind..

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Peanuts are not just used to make peanut butter or peanut M&Ms, but are a key ingredient in some other interesting creations. Peanuts are used in biofuels, massage oil, and are even used in some insecticides because ants and other insects do not like the smell of peanut oil. Another use of peanuts which would seem unconventional to most is dynamite.

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Dynamite is three parts nitroglycerine and one part stabilizer. Nitrogylcerine is created by nitrating glycerol. Peanut oil is a source of glycerol. Therefore nitrating peanut oil, can provide the explosive part of dynamite. Aren’t peanuts “the bomb”?

Food Fact #7: Can-berry Sauce

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With Thanksgiving fast approaching, I figured I’d make this week’s food fact about a food item commonly enjoyed during turkey day. Many of us look forward to the comfort foods such as mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, but cranberry sauce is a holiday favorite.

On Thanksgiving day, nearly 3/4 of Americans serve store bought cranberry sauce rather than homemade. Store bought cranberry sauce commonly plops out of the can in a jellied, unappetizing cylinder. Americans consume 5,062,500 gallons of jellied cranberry sauce every holiday season — enough to fill the entirety of the country’s largest water park, twice!

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Next week, instead of feeding your family store-bought, processed cranberry sauce from a can, I encourage you to make it yourself! OC Food Access Coalition’s very own Program Coordinator, Christina Hall has contributed this simple yet delicious recipe for making homemade cranberry sauce:

Ingredients:

1c water

1 bag cranberries

1 c sugar

Directions:

boil together for 10 minutes

We at OC Food Access Coalition hope you have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!