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Fresh effort to help feed the needy under way in Danville

'It will go on as long as there's food in Danville to donate'

A new effort to glean food for the needy is already reaping a big harvest.

Sustainable Danville Area's project, Share Our Food Shed, was inspired by The Urban Farmers, which has been picking unwanted fruit from area backyards to donate to local food pantries and animal shelters.

"This summer we reached out to partner with them to encourage homeowners in Danville, Alamo and even San Ramon with fruit trees to share their unwanted produce with those in need," said Cynthia Ruzzi, president of Sustainable Danville Area.

Share Our Food Shed began at the end of September and will continue as long as it's needed, Ruzzi said.

"It is an ongoing event. It started on Sept. 26 and it will go on as long as there's food in Danville to donate to our local food pantries," she said, adding, "It's really only one small piece of an effort that's been going on in our community."

Loaves and Fishes, a Contra Costa County organization that also feeds those in need does a similar outreach on Saturdays at the Danville farmers market.

Through the effort of Brittany Robinson at Breath of Hope Chiropractic, the Sustainable Danville Area organization was provided with a local place to donate fruits and vegetables. Robinson worked with her property manager to arrange a drop-off location and now on Wednesdays from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., people can drop off fresh produce at 822 Hartz Way in Danville. Sustainable Danville Area will deliver it to the food bank of Contra Costa.

It's off to a god start, Ruzzi said.

"So far we have accepted 132 pound of food at the Wednesday location - mostly thanks to Girl Scout Troop 30829 who picked a local apple tree for both the food bank and Lindsay Wildlife Museum," she said.

Fruits and vegetables that aren't fit for people are going to feed animals, Ruzzi said.

Volunteers so far have included Athenian School students, Sustainable Danville Area volunteers, kids and their parents. They work with Urban Farmers volunteers, who show up with equipment, pick the ripe fruit, leave whatever the homeowner wants and take the rest to the food bank.

Ruzzi credited Sustainable Danville Area board member Cindy Egan, who also teaches advanced environmental science at San Ramon Valley High, for the outreach effort.

"Besides attracting volunteers for the community gleaning project, we have 'attracted' people who have contacted us with small quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables to share," Ruzzi said.

Gleaning is an age-old method of providing food for those who can't afford it. Farmers once deliberately left parts of their fields unpicked for poor people to harvest for themselves.

Ruzzi said [http;//www.sustainabledanville.com Sustainable Danville Area is always looking for new volunteers, and they don't necessarily have to pick fruit to pitch in.

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