Table to Table needs volunteers to help feed those in need while avoiding food waste

Table-to-table workers unload food, March 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Table to Table needs volunteers to help in its work to help feed those in need by preventing food waste. Since 1996, the Iowa City-based nonprofit has relied on volunteers to collect food from farms, restaurants and other businesses, then sort and package the food before delivering it to partner organizations in Table to Table that help people facing food insecurity.

With the growing season underway in Iowa—or about to be underway in some areas, weather permitting—Table to Table has an increased need for gleaners.

“Farmers sometimes don’t harvest all the crops they grow as produce in their field – tomatoes, squash, zucchini, whatever – and what we do is get volunteers together and go harvest that for them” , Jared Long, volunteer coordinator of Table to Table, explained. “And then we distribute that to our partners.”

Gleaners also collect food donations from vendors at the farmers market after the market closes.

There is also a need for volunteers to pack and deliver donated food to Table to Table partners. Help from amateur gardeners is also welcome.

Table to Table’s “Grow a Row” program asks home gardeners to plant an extra row of vegetables to donate to the nonprofit. Table to Table accepts product donations from farmers and gardeners from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Last September, Table to Table moved to a new location at Pepperwood Plaza (1049 Hwy 6 East) and now shares a much larger space with Field to Family.

“It’s a great partnership,” Long said.

Since beginning its work a quarter of a century ago, Table to Table has delivered more than 25 million pounds of food to Johnson County agencies that “serve hungry, homeless and at-risk populations,” as it puts it. explained on its website.

More information on how to volunteer and how to make a donation to support Table to Table’s work is available on its website or by calling 319-337-3400.

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