Community Services Consortium

Serving Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties in Oregon. Helping people. Changing lives.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Gleaners Celebrate 40 Years of Gleaning Oregon’s Bounty

Contributed by Nancy Nash

There was some serious celebrating on March 12 this year at the State Capitol, as the Oregon Food Bank honored the 40th anniversary of organized gleaning in Oregon! The celebration included speakers and legislators, table displays and networking with gleaning groups, a legislative training session, and visits to legislative offices to educate on behalf of gleaners, gleaning programs, and low-income Oregonians.

Community Services Consortium is proud of its contribution to the gleaners groups in our region. Of all the gleaners statewide, Linn Benton Food Share’s program is the largest in the state, with 14 gleaning groups and a total of 7,900 low income members in Linn and Benton counties.

Cookie Johnson, coordinator of the Mary’s River Gleaners in Corvallis, headed over to the State Capitol, where she and three other members of the group had a display about Mary’s River Gleaners and talked to legislators. Johnson wants to raise awareness about the contribution that gleaners make and to “get the word out that people here in Oregon are hungry, especially the elderly and the homeless.”

Gleaners provide much more than food to their neighbors. The Canyon Gleaners, who also attended the celebration, deliver once a week to their “adoptees,” individuals and families that are unable to take an active part in the gleaning. Peggy Nickich, coordinator of the group in Mill City, told about one of her adoptees who has often said that Peggy’s visits are the woman’s “only social life.”

“Our legislators need to know just how important the gleaners are,” Nickich said. “We provide not only food, but wood, clothing, and companionship to our members.”

In some cases, they may be the only link a person has who is isolated from their community. Johnson tells the story of one of her 13 adoptees. She brings food to a woman, who hasn’t been out of her house in over 14 years.

“It took quite a while for her to just let me in the door,” Johnson recalled. “But now,” she said, “her face just lights up when I come. I make her my last delivery, so we can sit and have tea and just talk for a while.”

Linn Benton Food Share is the only Regional Food Bank in Oregon that funds a position devoted to supporting our gleaners: Gleaning Programs Coordinator. The coordinator, Susan James, plays an invaluable part in the success of the 14 gleaning groups. “Linn Benton Food Share is wonderful,” says Cookie Johnson. “Susan is the liaison between different organizations and grocery stores for us, and helps with any problems. She always has time for us.”

Community Services Consortium will celebrate this milestone with its gleaners at their Annual Gleaning Picnic in August.

If you would like to make a difference through our Gleaning Programs, contact Diana Teem at Community Services Consortium 541-574-2277 or email For more information on Linn Benton Food Share’s Gleaning Programs in Linn and Benton counties or any of CSC’s poverty fighting programs visit

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