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Church seeks excess fruit to glean to feed needy
Dawn Ghormley loaded some of the donated fruit in a pick-up truck. - photo by Bulletin file photo
Driving the streets of Manteca Jim Todd noticed an incredible resource going to waste – fresh citrus.

Many people – overwhelmed by the amount of fruit citrus trees in their yards such as oranges and grapefruit produce – were letting much of it simply get to the point it would drop to the ground and spoil creating a big mess to clean up.

The outreach minister for Crossroads Grace community Church knew that food banks throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley were in desperate need of food, especially fresh fruit.

So last year Todd working with volunteer Monique Black set about getting permission to go into people’s yards and glean the fruit for distribution to food closets in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

The church outreach volunteers that operate under the auspices of 2nd Saturday are at it again this year. Last week they harvested a row of tangerines that a farmer donated.
When they delivered the fruit this year, food closets said the situation is even more acute than last year.

Mike Mallory at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Manteca that serves as a clearing house for nearly 100 food closets in a three-county region has long noted fresh food is always in short supply when it comes to providing nutritional items for struggling families.

Todd is hoping to line up enough trees in Manteca area yards to deliver two to three tons next month and another three tons or so in March. If the weather cooperates and there is still viable fruit they will try a harvest in April.

While the ministry needs trees lined up for Saturday, Feb. 13, and Saturday, March 13 – plus possibly Saturday, April 20 – Todd realized that they may get more people willing to  give away their fruit to the needy than they can garner volunteers to pick on those three days.

That is why the outreach ministry will supply contact information to anyone who is interested in picking their own excess fruit and delivering it themselves to one of 10 food banks.

He is also hoping that more community members step forward – possibly youth groups and others – and let them know in advance that they can help on some of the upcoming dates. If they can, then 2nd Saturday can line up even more homes with fruit and that much more can go to help feed the needy at a time when unemployment is 14 percent in Manteca and even higher in Stockton and Modesto.

“Our hope is that homeowners will tell us, ‘take what is 6 feet and higher and make sure it goes to a good cause’,” Todd said.

Todd noted that as a bonus the homeowner won’t have all the mess on the ground to pick up from excessive fruit falling.

Their simple philosophy that there are no physical boundaries to a church gave birth to Crossroads Grace Community Church’s 2nd Saturday community outreach.

Hundreds of church members – along with community volunteers who elect to help  – set aside the second Saturday of each month from 8 a.m. to noon to do everything from helping the elderly with small home maintenance projects to gleaning fruit to help feed the needy.
Last Oct. 11 instead of conducting two church services, 2nd Saturday morphed into Crossroads Grace Community Church’s “Takin’ It to the Streets”  where 1,000 congregation members tackled numerous community projects including the planting of 250 trees along the Tidewater Bikeway.

For a list of past projects, visit

To volunteer fruit trees to be gleaned or to offer to help provide manpower contact Todd at 239-1977 or e-mail Monique Black at