Avid cyclist harvests produce to fight hunger
A playful joke turned into a 850-mile ride for Benjamin Rasmus, an avid cyclist and program director for Harvest Against Hunger, a project of Rotary First Harvest.
For 11 days in August, Benjamin Rasmus pedaled around the state of Washington. He biked up grueling mountain passes, battled a headwind for 80 miles, and had to be escorted through a brushfire.
The 850-mile ride started out as a joke, when co-workers playfully suggested that the avid cyclist and program director for Harvest Against Hunger, a project of Rotary First Harvest, make his regular site visits on two wheels.
The 28-year-old, who manages volunteers on produce-recovery and gardening projects, took them up on the challenge. He soon had $2,500 in donations and the interest of local media as he circled the state visiting growers and helping to harvest produce for donation to food banks. In the past, this food, either because of slight imperfections or a glut in the market, would be thrown away or left to rot in the field.
“In the last five years, there has been a big shift toward fresh, nutritious food in the emergency food system,” Rasmus explains. “We connect local growers and farmers with food banks and volunteers to get fresh produce to people in need.”
Rasmus is passionate about Rotary First Harvest – a program of Rotary District 5030 – which his fellow club members also support. “It’s shocking how much fresh produce goes to waste, and farmers hate to see that. They dedicate their lives to growing it.
"Food bank clients want healthful food," he adds. “So, if a client walks into a local pantry with an amazing selection of fresh produce, it gives them a boost too.”
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