VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A simple phone call ended with at least a dozen volunteers in John Cromwell's fields picking collard greens for a good cause.
"All these leaves are fine. I can harvest all of this again, but there's not much of a market for them right now so it's better off in their hands than mine," he said.
Cromwell, who has been a produce farmer for more than 40 years, said he has an overflow of vegetables and no buyers in immediate sight. He placed a phone call to the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, who struck a deal with him.
"They mentioned you know, would I ever have the opportunity for some volunteers to come out and harvest some crops and I said, 'Sure, why not?'" said Cromwell.
This launched the Foodbank's first-ever trip directly to the fields to select fresh produce. This food will later be given to families and individuals who may not know where their next meal is coming from.
"We expect to pick up 10 to 12 totes filled with cabbages today," said David Brandt with the Foodbank. "We've been focusing a lot on bringing fresh healthy foods to Virginia families, and this makes an incredible impact."
It comes at a critical time as benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are discontinued for many Virginia families. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government provided SNAP recipients with additional benefits.
"The demand is on the rise right now; we are going to do a record 21 million pounds of food this fiscal year. That's where we are trending right now, the demand is clearly out there," said Brandt.
Cromwell said if there is ever another opportunity to give back to the Foodbank, he will place another call to those who need the help the most.