New Jersey Ag Society presented with $7,000 grant

AFP Correspondent

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Burlington County (June 1, 2017) — On a day when Farmers Against Hunger held its first gleaning of the 2017 growing season at Specca Farms in Springfield, Investors Foundation came through with a major donation to the non-profit organization.
The $7,000 check was presented to the New Jersey Agricultural Society to aid with their all-volunteer Farmers Against Hunger Program.
The Ag Society’s produce trucks are kept in a central location at the Tri-County Farmers Cooperative Market off Route 33 in Hightstown.
On May 3, a team from Campbell’s Soup Co. in Camden gathered up hundreds of fat, healthy looking leaks from several rows of fertile soil at Specca Farms’ You-Pick operation. 
Asked how the grant came about, David Reina, branch manager and an assistant vice president of Investors Bank in nearby Columbus, said: “We met with Kristina (Guttadora, NJAS executive director) last year and I presented the opportunity of applying for the grants to her through our Investors Bank foundation. 
She applied for them, and this is the second year in the row we’ve awarded Farmers Against Hunger a grant.”
Presenting the check, posing for photos and holding an impromptu news conference at Specca Farms on May 3 were Reina and Krystal Gunning from Investors Bank.
Guttadora made a short speech in accepting the check and introduced the new director for the New Jersey Ag Society, Al Murray, who has retired as assistant director of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Elyse Yerrapathruni, gleaning coordinator for Farmers Against Hunger, later this year will assume part-time duties at the NJ Ag Society as a grants writer-coordinator.
Guttadora will be leaving her post as full-time executive director in mid-August to return to teaching and take a new post with Monmouth County Vocational Schools in Freehold.
In September Murray will take over in a part-time capacity as director the NJAS and the Farmers Against Hunger program.
A crew of 14 from the Campbell’s Soup corporate team picked about 150 pounds of leeks on May 3, Yerrapathruni said.
Yerrapathruni stressed that volunteer gleaners are in constant demand.
“Volunteer gleaners get bottles of water on very hot days through the spring, summer and fall,” she said. “We don’t provide a lunch but many gleaners bring their own lunches.”
She coordinates a team of volunteers that varies from five to 20 people to assemble and glean at various farms around the state on a weekly basis beginning in June.
“Then in the fall, we do gleanings on a daily basis,” she explained.
“One way to do it is with blanket e-mails to people, but trying to schedule volunteers is time consuming,” said Yerrapathruni, who is based in Camden county.
“Finding volunteers at the last minute is probably the hardest part of the job,” she said, “because we have short notice to form a team and go and glean at a particular farm and we always have a few people who have to cancel.”