By Ben Howard
When volunteers of the BOP harvest fruit together, most of us experience a pleasant time with kind and interesting people. We gather around fruit trees, collect nature’s bounty and then load it in my hatchback till there isn’t a square inch not filled with fresh fruit. More and more, I have felt the need to share the story of what happens to that fruit after we harvest it.
Today, it was my honor to attend the Fighting Hunger in Maryland Conference. One moment in particular stood out to me. When talking about his experience being homeless in Baltimore City, a speaker from the Faces of Homelessness said that he was able to find at least a meal a day, but finding a nutritious meal was not something he could do. While homeless, he ate a diet comprised of processed sugars and starches and he suffered from diabetes. Since finding a home three years ago, he has recovered from diabetes, which he largely attributes to having a place to store fruits and veggies.
That is where we come in. While we have the long-term goal of empowering those suffering from hunger or malnutrition to live near and harvest their own fruits and nuts, what we do in the short term is invaluable. After our harvest yesterday, I drove around the city and gave hundreds of pounds of apples to locations that serve the homeless. Thus far this year we have harvested enough to provide over 6,000 servings of fruit to those who need it the most. So, to all of you who have helped this year, thank you. And, for anyone in Baltimore who lacks access to fresh fruit, know that this is only the beginning for us, and we plan to do so much more.