Intervale Gleaning & Food Rescue

Volunteers from Ben & Jerry's help glean produce. Photo credit: Jessica Sipe
Volunteers from Ben & Jerry’s help glean produce. Photo credit: Abby Portman

The Intervale Center’s mission is to strengthen community food systems. Since 1988, we’ve been dedicated to improving farm viability, promoting sustainable land use and engaging our community in the food system. We recognize that in order to have a vibrant local community food system, we must work to engage everyone in our community. We believe that all Vermonters should have access to—and be able to afford and enjoy—fresh, locally-grown food.

Intervale Gleaning and Food Rescue develops sustainable solutions to improve food access in Vermont. Utilizing primarily volunteer labor, the program gleans and rescues fresh food from Intervale farms and other local farms during the growing season and packages it into weekly free food shares for individuals, families and social service agencies. This allows community members and organizations to access fresh, local food from farms they know. The program also provides education and resources for participants to connect them with year-round, sustainable access to local food.

The Intervale Gleaning and Food Rescue Program is a proud member of the Vermont Gleaning Collective and together with other partnering organizations is committed to increasing statewide access to farm-fresh foods.

Our Free Food Share
Income eligible community members and social service agencies sign up in June for a 16 week free food share (July-October). For individuals and families, the share averages 6-8 pounds of local vegetables a week and for social service agencies the share averages 20-50 pounds a week (depending on how many individuals are being served). Hunger Free Vermont attends each pick-up to provide taste tastes, culinary demonstrations and engage with participants in food and nutrition education activities.

A Community Driven Program
Intervale Gleaning & Food Rescue would not be possible without the support and engagement of our community – local farmers, organizations and volunteers. Each season many farms open their fields to gleaners. Digger’s Mirth Collective Farm, Intervale Community Farm and Jericho Settler’s Farm host gleaners weekly throughout the season and countless other farms donate extra produce to the program. In addition, the Intervale Gleaning and Food Rescue Program collects excess produce from participating vendors every Saturday at the Burlington Farmers’ Market. A committed group of core volunteers help run the program and many more help with gleaning efforts, packing free food shares and educating participants on the food they receive through the season.

In 2015, with the help of five University of Vermont interns, an intern provided by Hunger Free Vermont, and 257 unique volunteers, the Intervale Gleaning and Food Rescue Program distributed 30,473 lbs. of local produce to 125 households and 15 social service organizations.

The average amount of food distributed per week has continued to increase:

  • 2013: 860 lbs./week for 10 weeks
  • 2014: 1,429 lbs./week for 16 weeks
  • 2015: 1,900 lbs./week for 16 weeks

Get involved!

  • VOLUNTEER! Gleaning volunteer opportunities typically take place on Thursdays and Fridays from July – October.
  • Join the Vermont Gleaning Collective and  receive invitations to participate in gleans at area farms as well as other volunteer opportunities.
  • Feed your community
  • Help farmers ensure that no food goes to waste
  • Learn more about the Intervale Center and Intervale  farms
  • Meet community members
  • Earn City Market member worker hours
  • Help the Intervale Center sustain farms, land & people!

Contact Us
For general interest or questions about eligibility or to sign up, please contact Sarah Alexander at sarah@intervale.org or 802-660-0440 x120.

Quotes from Free Food Share members and member organizations:

The weekly pick-up, especially the size of it, created quite a buzz every Monday. Clients were happier to be eating a fresh apple or plate of salad than some unhealthy snack they managed to buy themselves. We are so grateful to the Intervale Center and their generosity. This program has inspired us to seek out local vendors and serve locally grown foods at our youth center. –Spectrum Youth and Family Services

The gleaning project helps lower our food costs and increases the percentage of local and high quality products we can get into meals and food bags. It encourages our families to try new things. Keep up the great work! Burlington Children’s Space

I have learned to cook with more variety given whatever veggies we received each week. It has also provided better nutrition for my family given the fresh, local fruits and veggies that I could not afford to buy. Thank you for helping me feed my family. This has been so fantastic! I will miss coming down to the Intervale and seeing the great staff and farmers. 2015 Free Food Share Recipient

I am healthier and have more energy. I have less desire to eat the unhealthy foods I was eating before. I am incredibly grateful to all of you who have participated in giving us healthier choices, ideas, and samples. Thank you! 2015 Free Food Share Recipient

Please know how grateful I am to be a two-year recipient of this program. Every staff person exhibits such kind and non-judgmental experience. I suspect I am not alone with feelings of shame and guilt in being in such a needy position. This program is almost exclusively the reason I am able to enjoy great nutrition. I could never access the amount and variety of food I receive each week at the Intervale. This program is the best thing since the invention of the wheel! 2015 Free Food Share Recipient