Fighting Food Insecurity

We feed the hungry by gathering surplus crops and unsold groceries for food distributors across San Diego County. Help us by volunteering, donating or both!

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Senior Gleaners of San Diego County, a volunteer organization with a mission to address community hunger, needs more people ages 55+ to help pick fruit going to waste after rains have delayed picking hundreds of trees.

“The first months of the year, we get always get more requests for picking citrus trees than our crews of seniors can handle,” said Margaret Burton, Senior Gleaners board president. “But this year, we are swamped with more requests, rain delays and soggy soil putting us far behind,” she added. The group has hundreds of trees scheduled to be picked, especially in East County and the Fallbrook area, with hundreds more waiting to be scheduled., she said.

“Residents are calling daily, bemoaning the fact that fruit is falling off their trees and rotting,” Burton added. We need help to get the food to hungry families before it falls off the trees or gets put into the garbage,” she said.

Burton listed several reasons that volunteers ages 55 and over have joined the group, such as spending time outdoors, making new friends, keeping active, preventing food waste and giving back to their community.

The group also needs people who can haul several filled banana boxes of fruit in their own vehicle. Most deliveries are within 10 miles of the picking site.

Most gleaners volunteer 3-4 hours one day per week, but there are no required minimum commitments. Volunteers join crews working near where they live. Some volunteers form small groups that work independently and set their own schedule.

To learn more about the group and to register as a volunteer, visit: or call 619-633-9180.

Winter Newsletter

In this issue — with a GIVING THEME — learn about our recent work and how we plan to make an even greater impact in 2024. Discover:

  • Gift ideas for a 30-year-old
  • President’s Holiday Wish List
  • Generosity in Action — Joe Strasser
  • New Board Member Spotlight

We extend our sincere gratitude for past, current and future support of our mission to feed hungry people, reduce food waste and provide meaningful activity to seniors. Read our Winter Newsletter.


We welcome volunteers 55 years and above. Sign up today by completing our online form.

Donate a Crop

Our crews glean from as few as one or two backyard trees, orchards and farms. If you have crops to donate please contact us. You receive a receipt for tax deductions.

Donate Funds

We rely on grants and donations from our volunteers, their family members and residents. Please support our work with funds, vehicles and more.

Reduce Waste

About 40% of landfill volume is organic material — much of it food waste, producing harmful methane gas. Learn better ways to shop, store food and protect the environment.

Gleaners in Action

What’s a Gleaner? For centuries, gleaners have collected food that would otherwise be wasted. The term originates from landowners leaving portions of their fields or crops for the poor to glean — collect bit by bit.

We Made Quite a Community Impact in 2023


Pounds Crops Picked


Pounds Groceries Collected


Volunteer Hours Recorded


San Diego County Resident Donors

Read What San Diegans are Saying About Us

Residential Fruit Donor

“I rely on the gleaning crew to help me pick my trees. I donate in memory of my wife who planted them many years ago.”

Leonard S.

Senior Volunteer

“Why I like gleaning: It’s useful, fun, outdoors, reduces waste, feeds people. When picking I’m enmeshed in layers of generosity: from those who grow the food; from pickers who give time, work, gas; from distributors; and from many recipients who share the food with family and neighbors.”

Anne G.S.

Monetary Donor

Linda Loehr

“My daughter is one of your volunteers and she feels strongly about the organization.”

Linda L.

Surplus Food Distributor

Angela W Heaven's Windows

“Our clients are delighted to see fresh fruit and more-so when they learn it was donated and picked by neighbors.”

Angela W., Heaven’s Windows

Your Questions Answered

Gleaners Juggling Lemons
Our volunteers keep active, make friends and give back to the community.

What does the Senior Gleaners organization do?

We provide quality food, otherwise wasted, to those needing it the most while giving meaningful activity to seniors.

How can I contribute to Senior Gleaners?

Volunteer to harvest crops, collect groceries, donate equipment and funds or employ special skills to support our mission.

How do I get started at my first glean?

After you register, a crew leader will contact you and assign you to a glean. They will also provide a brief orientation with helpful tips and information about the property. New grocery volunteers join crews using their own vehicles or a Senior Gleaners van.

Want to give us a try before joining or bringing a friend?

Get a Guest Waiver and give it to the crew leader at the glean. We also require the waiver for ALL minor guests who must be at least five years old.

How are gleans planned?

Our system assigns donors to the crew leader covering their geographic area. We meet or speak with crop owners and discuss logistics before scheduling the glean.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

Email or call 619.633.9180. We are always happy to assist you.

Some volunteers use a Senior Gleaners van to haul groceries from stores to distributors.
Some volunteers use a Senior Gleaners van to haul groceries from stores to distributors.
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