The Northern Neck Food Bank issued a challenge to local youth in our community, and Washington and Lee High School students have responded. In August, the student athletes of Washington and Lee High School will be joining the Northern Neck Food Bank gleaning teams in local farm fields for harvesting and gleaning sweet corn. Gleaning is collecting crops from farmers’ fields after they’ve been commercially harvested.
Wes James, a teacher at Washington and Lee, has gleaned with the Northern Neck Food Bank for nearly a year. Last fall, while picking broccoli, Wes and Brad Grinnen, NNFB Director of Operations and Gleaning, began a conversation about the potential of having Washington and Lee students glean during the summer. Soon after, the Northern Neck Food Bank invited local high schools to participate in a gleaning day. Wes, however, had a much larger idea. Instead of having students come for one day of gleaning, Wes wanted to see if he could have students spend an entire week in the fields.
From August 5th through August 9th, Washington and Lee student athletes will come out each day from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and glean sweet corn to be used in the Food Bank system of Eastern Virginia. The idea is to have two athletic clubs come together each day and have 40-50 students volunteer each morning to pick the fresh, locally grown produce.
“Wes’s enthusiasm for what we are doing with local produce is encouraging and extremely valuable to our mission to impact the community with the most nutritious food available to the guests of our pantries,” said Grinnen. “Wes comes to glean almost every Saturday in the fall and every time he shows up with a handful of students because of his invitation to them. It’s an incredible opportunity for these young people to give back to their community and to selflessly give to those who need this nutritious food.”