Farm to Food Bank volunteers recognized
CENTREVILLE — The Maryland Farm to Food Bank program held its second annual volunteer appreciation dinner Saturday evening, Feb. 25, at Corbaley Hall at Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church in Centreville. Maryland Farm to Food Bank Coordinator Amy Cawley welcomed the volunteers, calling them “my
Farm to Food Bank family”, and thanked them for doing “God’s work” in helping feed the needy in Maryland.
The volunteer program of gleaning remaining produce after a farm has harvested its fields for profit. The term dates to Old Testament scripture describing how people were allowed to pick through farm fields after a harvest to salvage remaining produce that otherwise would have gone to waste. Since 2011, Cawley has organized produce farmers across the state with modern-day gleanings using volunteers to harvest fresh produce from fields to help feed needy folks in Maryland. The fresh produce is sent to the Maryland Food Bank through a program called Farm to Food Bank, which has been particularly successful on the Eastern Shore.
The buffet dinner came mostly from foods gleaned by volunteers and prepared by staff members who regularly cook produce in kitchens for needy families in Maryland. The meal included stuffed chicken breast and a wide variety of freshly cooked vegetables. Maryland Farm Bureau volunteer Melissa Palmer, who works at PNC Bank in Denton, made a huge selection of homemade desserts.
Cawley presented Governor’s Volunteer Service Certificates to people who served in 2016 gleaning produce to help feed needy people across Maryland. Among the 228 volunteers who participated in 36 gleanings in 2016, the following were able to attend the banquet from almost every MidShore county.
Caroline County volunteers present included Trish Neal, Jane Cawley, Doug, Sherry and Keeley Good, Melissa Welch and Robin Brown; Dorchester County, farmer Jake Lovett, who recently moved from a farm in Worton; Talbot County, Donna Saathoff, Nicole Barth and Sharon Pahlman; and crossing the bridge from Anne Arundel County, Carrie and Chris Deboy, Karen Gindes, Tina Wilkins and Mike and Alice Thompson.
The largest contingent of volunteers overall this past year was from Queen Anne’s County, and the list of names from QA is too large to list.
Bridgitte and Paige Bailey of Kent Island were presented the Volunteer Loyalty Award for 2016, having participated in 18 gleanings over the past three years. The mother and daughter were commended for their steadfastness in supporting the program.
Cawley followed the volunteer awards by recognizing many of the local farms and their owners present who made produce available that otherwise would have gone to waste. Those farms were Lowery’s Produce of Chester, owners Claude and JoAnn Lowery; Homestead Farms of Millington, owners Luke and Allsion Howard; Jake Lovett of Dorchester County; Wye Research & Educational Center of Queenstown; Godrey’s Farm of Sudlersville, owners Tom and Lisa Godfrey; Arnold Farms of Chestertown, owners Bob Arnold and Margaret Frothingham; and Mason Farms of Ruthsburg, owners Steve and Kate Krasewski.
Participating farmers not able to attend included Steve Mason of Kent Fort Farm in Romancoke; Jennie Schmidt of Schmidt Farms Inc., of Sudlersville; Dr. Selvin Passen of Stevensville.
The Fabulous Farmer Award went to Mason Farms in Ruthsburg, owned and operated by Steve Kraszewski and his wife Kate. It was the fifth year Mason Farms has been involved in the Farm to Food Bank program.
The following statistics reflect the success of the pounds of produce procured for the Maryland Food Bank: 2011 — 28 farmers, 508,343 pounds; 2012 — 46 farmers, 814,268 pounds; 2013 — 39 farmers, 925,243 pounds; 2014 — 54 farmers, 1,534,773 pounds; 2015 — 43 farmers, 1,101,362 pounds; and 2016 — 35 farmers, 937,648 pounds. Volunteers in gleaning efforts: 2014, 33 gleanings, 171 volunteers; 2015, 37 gleanings, 360 volunteers; and 2016, 36 gleanings, 228 volunteers. No records of the number of gleaners were kept from 2011-2013.
Cawley also introduced the administrative team that runs the Maryland Food Bank that were in attendance: President and C.E.O. of Maryland Food Bank Carmen Del Guercio, Chief Financial and Operating Officer Matt Whelan, Managing Director, MFB — Eastern Shore Jennifer Small, Youth Program Coordinator, MFB — ES Carol Messick-Green, Director of Eastern Shore Relations Steve Schwalb, Director of Communications Joanna Warner, and Volunteer Maryland Coordinator Rubab Azeem.
The Kraszemski family, owners of Mason Farms in Ruthsburg, was named Fabulous Farmer for 2016 as part of the Farm to Food Bank program in Maryland. From left, Steve Kraszemski, holding son Will, 4, Maryland Farm to Food Bank Coordinator Amy Cawley, and Kate Kraszewski holding daughter Rosa, 23 months. The family was recognized Saturday evening, Feb. 25, during the volunteers appreciation banquet in Centreville.