Saturday’s “crop drop” in the parking lot at Jasper’s First Baptist Church drew food banks and agencies from across central Alabama to collect hundreds of pounds of fresh apples that will go to help feed hungry families across the state.
In all, volunteers bagged almost 40,000 pounds in a little more than 90 minutes.
Jasper’s First Baptist Church and First United Methodist Church helped sponsor the event.
Mary Linn Botts, Alabama’s program coordinator for Society of St. Andrew, which sponsors “crop drops” across the nation each year, said Saturday’s large group of volunteers helps make the events go smoothly.
“This is amazing. I’m thrilled,” Botts said. “It’s the grace of God that brings them. I put the word out about these events, and I have to trust that He’s going to provide the volunteers. And He did. They are here, all ages, all walks of life.”
Society of St. Andrew is a grassroots, faith-based, hunger relief nonprofit working with all denominations to bridge the hunger gap between 96 billion pounds of food wasted every year in the U.S. and the nearly 40 million Americans who live in poverty.
“What we do is partner with more than 220 agencies across 12 counties, and we distribute almost 9 million pounds of food each year,” said Amanda Storey, the assistant director of the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama. Storey was helping register agencies that came from as far away as Alabaster and Winfield for Saturday’s event.
“Agencies across these 12 counties rely on us to get food, so what is great about events like this is that we get more regional fresh products to the people who need it — the hungry families,” Storey said. “This is a great partnership with the Society of St. Andrew, because they are able to locate where those regional and local farmers are who are willing to donate their products.”
Saturday’s crop of apples came from Scott’s Orchards in Hazel Green.
Will Scott, whose family donated the apples for Saturday’s event, said he and his family are happy to help those in need.
“We had a great crop this year, absolutely tremendous,” Scott said. “And this is a great place for the apples to go. The food banks are doing a great job, along with the Society of St. Andrew, and it’s great to see all this working out so well.”
Botts said farmers across the state who donate their products for the food banks are invaluable to what her organization is trying to do.
“We couldn’t do this without our farmers,” Botts said. “My organization reaches out to the farmers and makes connections and tries to build relationships. What we tell them is that we don’t want what is sellable. We only want what’s going to go to waste.”
Botts said approximately 30 agencies from across central Alabama, including more than a dozen from Walker County, benefitted from Saturday’s event. “Some received as little as six bags, some as many as 30 bags,” Botts said. “Other groups were able to take hundreds of pounds of apples.”
Among those benefitting locally were the Salvation Army food bank, Backyard Blessings, Mission of Hope and the food bank at Sumiton Church of God.
“This just shows there’s a great need for this,” Botts said.