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Volunteers Bridge Farm to Food Pantry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates consumer food waste at about 162 billion dollars annually. That’s almost $500 per person in a country where 10 percent of families experience food insecurity. The Society of St. Andrew pairs volunteers with farmers and businesses to stop food waste. United Methodist volunteers in Tennessee are feeding hungry families farm-to-table.

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Chuck Parmele, Society of St. Andrew volunteer: “We go to farmer’s markets. We go to UT’s farms. Anywhere produce is about to be wasted, we want to know about it and intercept it.”

Chuck Parmele is a volunteer for Society of St. Andrew, a ministry that collects surplus produce and delivers it to food pantries and feeding programs.

Chuck Parmele: “I love it because it’s two problems solving each other. On one hand, you’ve got food that’s about to become wasted and you have hungry people who would love to get it.”

Pickups may be pineapple or tomatoes. Longtime volunteer Mike Smith sees SOSA as a way to do God’s work.

Mike Smith, Society of St. Andrew volunteer: “23 years ago, I had open heart surgery and the night before, I told the Lord, “If I wake up that means you got something for me to do and I’ve been doing something ever since.”

Gleaning goes back to the Old Testament when farmers were instructed to leave some food in the fields for the poor.

Mike Smith: “Somebody will call and say, ‘I’ve got a little garden and I’ve got too much green beans. Can you get a couple people to come out?’ And we’ll come out and we’ll glean the green beans.”

Smith makes several stops on his farm to food pantry delivery schedule, logging close to 40 hours a week at times.

Mike Smith: “I probably work about… I don’t work. I have fun for 8 hours a day. More people need to know about the Society of St. Andrew and that’s why I try to promote it everywhere I go.”


Founded by two United Methodist ministers, the Society of St. Andrew is America’s oldest and largest gleaning organization. Learn more about volunteer opportunities near you and ways to support the Society of St. Andrew. Visit their website at

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.

Contact is Joe Iovino.

This video was first posted on September 20, 2021.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

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