Kate Markman shows some of the cherries recently picked by the Utah State University student volunteers to be used by area food pantries on Friday July 30, 2022.

LOGAN – As the head of Utah State University’s Gleaning Team, Kate Markman is leading a bunch of Utah State University student volunteers where they can harvest fruits and vegetables around Cache Valley.

Kate Markman shows some of the recently picked cherries that students at the University’s Student Nutrition Access Center on Friday July 30, 2022.

Their aim is to help reduce food waste while supporting food security in the community.

“Our volunteers help harvest the excess produce from gardens and orchards in the valley that otherwise would go to waste,” she said. “We take the produce we pick to the Student Nutrition Access Center (SNAC) the Cache Food Pantry and other food security programs.”

USU’s SNAC is a pantry on campus that has food available for all students regardless of their income level.

“The harvest locations vary each session; participants will be informed of location once they have signed up for specific time,” said Markman, a four-year veteran of the program. “I have been interested in food sustainability and I have loved working with lessening food waste and promoting food security.”

The mission of the program is to utilize food that would not be harvested and then find people who could really use it.

“Kara Bachman founded the program when she was a graduate student and was the coordinator of the SNAC pantry on campus,” she said. “I’ve found food security is more about having a balanced diet or having the right foods for your body to function properly.”

They started picking cherries last week and are currently holding three sessions a week.

“We have 10 volunteers at a time and we are lucky to have some volunteers that have worked with us in the past,” Markman said. “We are always looking for more people; it is fun and we all have a good time when we work together.”

They have properties where they gather fruits and vegetables all over Cache Valley, from Preston to Paradise.

The tricky part is the unpredictability when we know what properties are ready for us,” she said. “Cherries and apricots are in season right now.”

Kate Markman shows some cherries Utah State University student volunteers harvested recently.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that over 100 billion pounds of fruit and vegetables are left in the fields every year.

USDA officials also said that in the United States, food waste is estimated to be between 30-40 percent of the food supply. USDA’s Economic Research Service estimates 31 percent food loss at the retail and consumer levels corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food a decade ago.

For more information, contact Kate Markman at 801-201-4938.

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