Gleaners Seek Food and Volunteers

What's a gleaner?
The food gathering activity known as "gleaning" goes back to Biblical times when landowners left a portion of their crops for the poor to harvest. This food would otherwise be wasted. Today it ends up in landfills and generates high levels of methane gas.

HALF A MILLION TOO MANY in San Diego County!

  • 500,000 people are food insecure

  • 500,000 tons of food is wasted annually; and food waste adds 18% to landfill volume

Gleaners gather surplus food from farms, gardens, backyards,and orchards to feed hungry people.

Gleaners in San Diego County collected over 500,000 pounds of food in 2016.

Want to help? Donate food, time and money!
Most of these local gleaning organizations rely totally on volunteers and donated funds to maintain their charitable operations.



  • Save time picking and disposing of unwanted fruit.

  • Reduce the nuisance of rotting fruit attracting rodents and insects.

  • Or pick your own and request drop off location to donate.


  • You are protected from liability by the federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.

  • You are eligible for a tax deduction for the value of your charitable contribution.



  • Most of these organizations welcome volunteers of all ages, including families and groups, for whatever amount of time you have to give.

  • Some allow volunteers seeking to complete school community service hours or court-ordered community service hours. Check with each organization for details.


  • Move picked fruit to recipients. Many of the groups rely on volunteers to haul fresh produce in their own trucks, vans, SUVs, hatchbacks or sedans.

Got $$$?

  • Support this important work. Each organization's Website has information or links to make donating easy. To access an organization in your area, scroll down to the listings in the charts below.


HELP TO END FOOD WASTE AND HUNGER: CONTACT A GLEANER GROUP  These volunteers harvest residential fruit trees in the Poway / Rancho Bernardo / Rancho Penasquitos area, set up donation sites where homeowners can drop off  backyard produce, and operate an organic garden. All produce is donated to the non-profit Friends and Family Community Connection for distribution to local families in need. Accepts one-time or long-term volunteers. Contact mailto:  Based in North County, ProduceGood operates the CropSwap gleaning program that organizes teams of volunteers to pick fruit from private groves and orchards throughout San Diego County. Gleaned fruit is donated to food banks for distribution to the hungry. Accepts one-time and long-term volunteers. Apply on website.  Based in Lemon Grove, Harvest CROPS organizes teams of volunteers to pick fruit from backyards and orchards throughout San Diego County. The gleaned fruit is donated to local charities for distribution to the hungry. Accepts one-time and long-term volunteers. Complete on-line application.  A local sustainable food program that connects central San Diego fruit tree owners with volunteers who harvest the fruit and share it with people in need. Accepts one-time or long-term volunteers. Call 619-630-5897.

Long-term volunteers harvest fruit in groves and orchards in the North County region. The group works in partnership with Interfaith Community Services, but also distributes to other organizations feeding the hungry.


North County Gleaners  These volunteer gleaners aged 55+ harvest from backyards and farms throughout San Diego County, and collect unsold food from grocery stores and restaurants. Gleaned food is distributed at no charge to agencies feeding low income residents. Volunteers must be age 55 and over. Complete website application and commit to schedule. 

RELATED ORGANIZATIONS AND RESOURCES  The Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank welcomes surplus and imperfect food that is still perfectly edible and safe to consume from throughout San Diego County. We have two drop off locations--central and north county. To schedule a pickup of already picked produce please contact our Food Procurement Coordinator Martha Vargas at 858-863-5133.  To schedule a team of volunteers to pick your residential crop, please contact our partner CropSwap listed above and let them know you would like your produce to be donated to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank.  Helps connect fruit tree owners and residents with local gleaning groups around San Diego County to pick the remaining crop for distribution to the hungry. Feeding San Diego works with both gleaning groups and other food donors to accept and distribute more than 18.5 million meals annually throughout San Diego County.

Find Food Assistance  If you need immediate food assistance, call 2-1-1 and the operator will direct you to the nearest food distribution center.  This is a bartering site for San Diego's surplus backyard fruit and vegetables. This organization helps 42 million home and community gardeners end food waste and hunger by educating and enabling them to donate their excess garden produce to a nearby food pantry. 

Ample Harvest Lists numerous California gleaning and food rescue organizations, primarily in S. Calif., along with a few in other Western states. Includes pages on tree care, harvesting tips and food preservation.

Village Harvest