Elder Evans, right, with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cullman hands off a bag of sweet potatoes to Scott Cooley, left, who loads them into a pickup in this Times file photo. Local volunteers gathered at the North Alabama Agriplex to help bag 5,000 pounds of sweet potatoes gleaned from Kress Farms. The produce will be distributed to area charitable organizations to feed the needy.

Cullman County farmers will provide needy area residents with nutritious fresh produce this month through a program that transfers gleaned vegetables over to local charitable organizations.

On Thursday, volunteers gathered at the North Alabama Agriplex Heritage Center to divide 5,000 pounds of sweet potatoes into bags to distribute to the agencies. Kress Farms donated the tubers from their crop, with the potatoes selected due to their odd shape and wrong color or sizes.

Later in the day, volunteers picked up turnips from Bagwell Farms who never intended to sell the vegetables, said Rachel Dawsey, Agriplex coordinator.

“This is food that would have been otherwise wasted but will now go to people who need it,” Dawsey said.

Birmingham-based Society of St. Andrew spearheaded the event in Cullman, with others planned across the state. In all, Alabama farms will donate close to a million pounds of fresh produce, said Mary Lynn Botts, program coordinator with the Society of St. Andrew’s Alabama Gleaning Network.

The Cullman County sweet potatoes will go to Cullman Caring for Kids, The Crossing and other area churches and organizations that distribute food. Altogether, they represent 15,000 servings, Dawsey said.

* Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at towens@cullmantimes.com or by phone at 256-734-2131.

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