Langston Moore of Jackson is the Mississippi regional director of the Society of St. Andrew, which brings people together to harvest and share healthy food, helps reduce food waste and builds caring communities.
A graduate of Mississippi College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications, Moore worked for 10 years as a program director at The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi before he joined the Society of St. Andrew.
He has more than 20 years of experience in the communications and community engagement fields and enjoys public speaking, food policy work, anti-hunger efforts, college anti-hunger initiatives, event planning and networking with people in Mississippi to accomplish tasks.
When was the Society of St. Andrew established?
“The Society of St. Andrew was founded nationally in 1979 in Big Island, Virginia, by three Methodist ministers. We are a faith-based program. The Mississippi office opened in 2006. Through the end of 2020, the Mississippi office had gained and distributed almost 23 million pounds of fresh food from Mississippi’s farm fields.”
What is the mission of the Society of St. Andrew?
“The Society of St. Andrew has a mission to bring people together around fresh food. We harvest food and share it, which reduces food waste. We build up communities by offering nourishment.”
How does the society’s gleaning network operate?
“Across the nation, each region of the Society of St. Andrew has a gleaning network. The Mississippi gleaning network is made up of thousands of Mississippians, who are dedicated to the mission. Church congregations and individuals are a huge part of our services, both food distribution and gleaning. We have connections and relationships with farmers that we’ve made over the years.
“We glean a field after harvest. Take sweet potatoes for example. There are sweet potatoes left that a farmer can’t sell because of size or color shape, but there’s nothing wrong with them nutritionally. We go in and claim that food and either take it to an area near where we got the food or our volunteers will take it back to their communities and use their networks to distribute it. We’re hyperlocal and understand that communities know their needs better than we do and understand how to best distribute food in their areas.
“We also pick up from large-volume producers and packing houses leftover food or food the market can’t handle that may have slight blemishes but is still edible and distribute that. We purchase the food at a negotiated low price or it may be donated with the donor receiving a tax incentive for giving to a nonprofit. Because of our mission, we can negotiate bottom-line prices.”
When do gleaning events occur?
“Most gleaning events take place on weekends when gleaners arrive in the fields around 8 a.m. and are on the way home by noon. The Society of St. Andrew makes all of the arrangements that involve farmers, produce containers and food distribution. All a volunteer gleaner needs to do is show up.
“People of all ages can glean. Gleaners should be able to be bend over and should be able to bend and lift several pounds of produce.”
What are some foods that volunteers have gleaned?
“Volunteers in Mississippi have gleaned all kinds of produce grown in our state that can’t get to market. For example, they’ve gleaned sweet potatoes, butterbeans, peas, corn, okra, tomatoes, lettuces and green leafy veggies.
“In Mississippi we’re very blessed to have some of the richest soil in the world. Not only can we grow good food but we can grow all kinds of food and we can grow food year-round.”
When was there a recent event in Jackson for Society of St. Andrew volunteers?
“We got 2,000 pounds of turnip greens in Puckett on Nov. 24, 2020, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and delivered them in metro Jackson. Volunteers gleaned 10,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and delivered them to individuals as they drove through the parking lot at Blackburn Middle School in Jackson on Dec. 18, 2020.”
How do farmers know about the Society of St. Andrew?
“In Mississippi, we’re very relationship oriented. We have been building relationships over the years since 2006 when our office opened and began offering farmers a way to use food so it does not go to waste. Farmers have a heart for people. It’s a natural fit for them to not waste their food and they get tax incentives when they donate.”
How do the Society of St. Andrew volunteers thank farmers?
“Our volunteers who are gleaners don’t just get the food from a field and leave. We help a farmer with any needs that there
may be. If they need help cleaning up, mowing, anything that will make their job easier, we will do.”
How many people in Mississippi volunteered with the Society of St. Andrew last year?
“Last year, we had 3,500 volunteers across the state. We’re a faith-based organization and many churches, small groups, Sunday school classes and service-oriented organization volunteer with us. They want to serve. They want to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Has the pandemic had an impact on your work?
“I tell people that COVID been a true blessing and a curse at the same time. We’ve been able to set a record of number of pounds of food gleaned, yet there are still many hungry people. There are real life stories of people who are hungry that have never experienced that before.”
What does your work as a regional director involve?
“I handle development, donor relations, congregation relations and public speaking. The directors are the face of the organization.
“A $100 donation will provide 35 servings of fresh food. I want everyone to know that we are good stewards of our donors’ money. We have an independent audit each year that we schedule, and it always reveals that our operating expenses are usually less than 10 percent.”
What is the best way to learn more about the Society of St. Andrew?
You can find us online at endhunger.org/mississippi.