Turning Leftovers into Abundance
Ryan Cox is a 14 year old from Jacksonville, FL who has found a unique way to support the needy in his community. The teenager has provided thousands of pounds of food for hungry, impoverished persons in Northeast Florida through his “gleaning efforts.”
Gleaning is an ancient, biblical practice that involves gathering leftover crops that would otherwise rot from fields that have already been formally harvested.
Ryan has gleaned and donated more than 3,000 lbs. of fresh produce to The Salvation Army and other non-profit agencies. He started at the age of 12 when he needed to complete several service hours for his church confirmation. During his first gleaning experience, he harvested potatoes from a farm in Hastings, Florida with other 7th grade boys. Despite being hot and dirty after many hours of hard work, they were thrilled to have harvested hundreds of pounds of potatoes!
Having previously served meals at a Salvation Army soup kitchen, Ryan knew first-hand that they could use more fresh produce, so he made it his personal mission to continue gleaning as much produce as possible.
In 2010 alone, he gleaned more than 2,000 pounds of potatoes, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers and citrus which he and his parents delivered to The Salvation Army. The value of Ryan’s donated food is worth more than $4,200 and has provided more than 1,600 nutritious meals for homeless men, women and children. According to Ryan, this is only the beginning. He continues to set personal gleaning goals and well surpasses them.
Head Chef for the local Salvation Army, Anthony Mosely, cannot say enough about Ryan and his gleaning efforts.
“Ryan has literally saved us thousands of dollars in produce costs and had added variety and freshness to our meals. He is an enthusiastic kid with an abundance of energy and ambition. He is the kind of kid they should make a movie about. How many kids his age do you know that set personal goals of helping to feed homeless people – and then actually follow through on them? This kid is amazing!”
And amazing he is! Ryan will be entering high school in the fall and shows no sign of slowing down in his efforts to help others.
From all of us at The Salvation Army, thank you Ryan for your outstanding work and leadership! You are a true blessing and role model.
Information submitted by The Salvation Army Florida Division.