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Harvesting New (Year's) Hope with GleanKY

Bekah Worster, Development Director - GleanKY

Today we have Bekah Worster the Development Director of Glean KY visiting us at The Galerie. The last time Bekah was here we were stepping over extension cords and 2x4s!

Bekah, so happy to see you - I'm really looking forward to learning more about Glean's programs here in Central Kentucky. And, you have a pretty big event on New Year's that is just a few days away! Q. Before we start, we need to know the Galerie Trifecta: favorite food, favorite film, and favorite flowers - GO! Food: Anything Mexican Film: Some like it Hot, The Little Shop Around the Corner, and Goodfellas - every time I see its on TV I've got to drop everything to watch it! Flower: Peonies. And Calla Lillies - they look like paint brushes, which reminds me of my mom. She was a painter. Q. Tell me a little bit about Glean KY. What is the mission, how long has it been around? - all that good stuff! Our organization is based on the concept of “gleaning” which is essentially gathering up the excess harvest. Glean KY gathers and redistributes fresh fruits and vegetables to nourish Kentucky’s hungry, which would otherwise go to waste. Since 2010 we've partnered with local farms, grocery stores, orchards, even backyard gardens by “gleaning” their excess produce - we then deliver this produce to over 105 feeding programs across Central Kentucky.

Q. How long have you been a member of the Glean team? I have been with Glean since February 2018 and I am always mesmerized by our stats and progress. Back in November, as an example, we gleaned 1,500 lbs of apples and 3,000 lbs of watermelon! Every day there is a new supporter in some capacity - a new farm, a new donor, a new volunteer. It is really amazing, we are always growing and exceeding limits and goals by leaps and bounds. This year marks 1.5 million pounds of produce gleaned! We are rolling through the holiday season really quickly! I think it’s important to share that food insecurities occur all year round - not just around the holidays - to combat the need for nutrient-rich produce, the Glean team is working constantly to combat hunger in our communities throughout Central Kentucky. Glean’s dedication to providing nutrition year-round is truly admirable, and congrats to your team for gleaning over 1.5 million pounds of produce!

Q. For those out there who would like to help support Glean’s programs past the holiday season – what are some ways they contribute to the organization as we move into 2019? ONE. Volunteer. We glean all the way to Christmas each year. Volunteers can help us pick up the produce/excess harvest from the fields, from retail partners, or deliver it directly to our program partners and neighborhood ambassadors. TWO. Donate. Becoming a financial ambassador is a tremendous help allowing for more consistent budgeting of resources and focus on service vs. fundraising. Monthly giving can be any amount, $10, for example, is a great place to start! THREE. Attend our New Year’s Eve fundraiser - New Year's Eve with GleanKY!

Q. What do you want folks to know about your event “New Year’s Eve with GleanKY”. First off, let’s just say “Ouita Michaels”! She will be catering the event – and if you have ever had her food, you know it's amazing. The event is open to attendees under 21, as well as guests 21+. There will be DJ entertainment, live party games, a gift card pull, silent auctions, a cocktail bar for guests 21+.

We wanted to celebrate this year in Woodford County and The Galerie was just a great fit for our event. Woodford County is the fastest growing county we serve in Central Kentucky and we are so excited about all of our partnerships we have been able to develop within this community.

One story sticks out in my mind. Many WC families were feeling the loss of perishable foods during the county-wide power-outage several months ago. Salad Days Farm invited Stephanie Wooten (our Executive Director) along with a few volunteers to collect produce for a same-day emergency disbursement. If it helps to shine light on the need during that time, we have never seen a line outside the food pantry before. When the Glean team pulled up to drop off this produce and started to unload the boxes, they received a standing ovation from folks waiting in the line. That right there makes all of what we do worth it - these programs are making a real difference in peoples’ lives. Q. What is the number one thing you want people to know about the organization? We have a nearly 100% return rate for volunteers, which is pretty cool. Many of our volunteers were beneficiaries of Glean’s programs services and then they come back to help others – and that is really rewarding. We are helping others to help their friends, family members, and neighbors. There are many things that can be treated or prevented with proper nutrition – from heart disease to diabetes, for example. Not only are we able to physically feed the communities we support, but we are also able to nourish their souls as well which contributes to full-body wellness.

Q. What is the strangest vegetable or produce item your team has received or harvested?

In my own experience Black Spanish Radishes from Elmwood Stock Farms! This was a rapid glean, we were there in 48 hrs. Within 2 hrs of us gleaning the produce it was at the feeding programs, and then within 12 hours the food is either prepared for a meal or dispersed to the families or individuals in need. Q. Who can folks contact if they are interested in participating in Glean’s programs or volunteering their time?

The best contact is Ben Southworth, our Program Director for events, fundraising. Or if you would like us to come speak to your church, office, for example, or if you are interested in monthly giving send me an email, we’d love to hear from you!

Bekah - so glad you were able to spend some time with me here at The Galerie! Thank you for taking your talents and passions into the community. Wishing the GleanKY team, ambassadors and volunteers a happy and prosperous New Year as you all continue to bring amazing services to Central Kentucky in 2019 and beyond!

I am looking forward to the New Year's Event- and you know I will be there with sequins on! Tickets are limited so get yours ASAP friends!


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