VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Many families are struggling to put food on the table as grocery prices soar to new heights.

The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore said the need is higher than ever before, and, at this rate, they could serve a record number of families by the end of 2023.

This year, there has been a bigger effort to get more fresh food to families in need in Hampton Roads, and local farmers are helping to make that happen.

About 20 volunteers worked to glean the fields at Cromwell Farms, which means they harvested some of the crops that were missed or are shaped funny but are still perfectly good to eat.

“A lot of people are just one paycheck away from needing their services, and if we can help them pass it on to the community, that’s even better,” said Stacey Gordon.

Stacey, and her co-workers, Krissy Olberding and Diane, took a break from the office on Wednesday to help the community. They said they’ve volunteered with the Foodbank before, but this was a lot different.

“I know how much of an impact this can make for a family, and seeing all these boxes throughout the farm full and overflowing, its very heartwarming,” said Krissy Olberding.

Foodbank senior communications director David Brandt said this is a different type of volunteer experience.

“You’re really close to the food so you feel a real connection knowing what you’re picking is going to help somebody,” Brandt said.

Brandt said they’ve been increasing their efforts to get more fresh food to local families.
And they’re hoping to do more events like this in the future.

“It’s critically important because we want people not just to survive but to thrive,” Brandt said. “We’re going to be doing this a lot more in the future provided we can get more farmers on board.”

Pungo farmer John Cromwell said he’s preparing to plant soybeans in this field, so he’s glad that this fresh food won’t go to waste.

“If they didn’t get sold, I would just plow them up, so there’s no need for that when there’s a group like the Foodbank that could get some use out of them,” Cromwell said. “I’m happy that they can come get them.”

The boxes filled with vegetables will soon go to a distribution center and then will be handed out to families in need.

Want to help?

If you’d like to volunteer with the Food Bank or donate to help families in need, visit their website. If you are a farmer who’d like more information about partnering with the Food Bank, you can contact them here.