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  • Chloe Humphreys

The Power of Gleaning: a meaningful bridge to food equity

Nevada has a little known problem: food deserts. A food desert is defined as an area where people have limited access to fresh produce due to lack of transportation or a reasonably distanced grocery store. This dichotomy between the haves and have-nots makes nearly 155,000 people in Nevada[1] struggle in a battle to eat a well-balanced diet. Provided that grocery stores require more horizontal space than many fast-food establishments, it’s no surprise that in Nevada 89%[1] of food deserts are urban environments, and thus likely saturated with fast food establishments[2] reaping profit from an undernourished population with little power to say no. When healthy food is swapped for these less healthy, high calorie alternatives, the area may be deemed a “food swamp”. Even the grocery stores that are available in these areas have less healthy foods than in a “food oasis”, where mid-high SES area have the most access to healthy choices[2]


This dilemma becomes even more troubling when considering the interplay of food insecurity in Nevada. As of the latest reports, one in ten Nevadans have low food security and Nevada is one of ten other states to see food insecurity statistics increase over the last decade[3] . Aside from noting a still pervasive problem Nevada faces, these numbers fail to reflect sensitive nature of food security rates which fluctuates at the whim of the economy, legislative changes, or most public health crises.


A study assessing food insecurity in the United States after Covid-19 gripped the world estimated that food insecurity increased by 33% nationally, affecting a broad range of people without mercy[4]. Food insecurity perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty and ill health outcomes affecting the old, the young, the urban and rural. It could be your neighbor, your friend—it could be anyone!


This may seem like such a grim reality, but to Harvest NV, this means Nevada has amazing potential to improve! This will require systematic reform on many levels over many years outside the scope of any one person or organization. That doesn’t mean that change has to wait for some lawmaker to take charge! Change can start in your backyard, in those trees that have excess fruit and unlimited potential! People from all over the community can get involved to start making a difference. Today.


Gleaning is a superpower for communities. It is a tool that unites all people within a community to reclaim something that nobody should ever go without: a reliable source of fresh, nutritious food. By engaging with locally sourced produce, like those from peoples back yard trees and gardens, people become more knowledgeable and equipped to engage in the many facets of social change that our planet and people need. It provides an avenue for activism and social justice that doesn’t require waiting or hoping for change from those in office. In this manner, produce is powerful, and gleaning hands bring produce to the people. That is the mission of HarvestNV and we are eager to engage the community at every opportunity to make it more cohesive and exponentially more fruitful. With up to 40% of produce in the USA going into a landfill[5], gleaning represents a means of sustainability in our local community too!


You can find us at a growing number of weekly farmers markets and other local events year around: Shirley's Farmer's Markets, Riverside Farmer's Market, and more to come. You can also find us on our Facebook and Instagram engaging our followers and sharing updates of our progress and successes. The expansion of our services and outreach depends on the recruitment of volunteers, donors, and passionate advocates like you.


Help us achieve our future goals by staying connected, up-to-date and involved with Harvest NV. We are actively recruiting volunteers for a variety of positions, so visit our post on volunteers to see where you fit best as local food justice and sustainability advocate within Harvest NV!


What makes Harvest NV a unique gleaning nonprofit is the drive to minimize waste from beginning to end of a harvest cycle. That is why we divide harvests into three categories: whole food donation, food processing/preservation, and composting. We plan to offer increasing resources to our community via blog posts, discussions, and continued community engagement regarding these topics so that they can stay well informed, and become even more effective vehicles of sustainability, domestic vitality, inclusion, and community wellness. If we could rescue 3000 lbs of produce with just six volunteers over a single harvest season, then imagine the impact you could make by joining Harvest NV!






[1] What is a Food Desert? | Extension | University of Nevada, Reno (unr.edu)

[2] IJERPH | Free Full-Text | Evaluating Consumer Nutrition Environment in Food Deserts and Food Swamps | HTML (mdpi.com)

[3] datatables (frac.org)

[4] Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic and Poverty on Food Insecurity: Yearly Spatial Analysis (scirp.org)

[5] Food Loss and Waste | FDA

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