Food bank asking for residents' excess citrus

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Community Food Bank receives donations from residents and businesses to fill the shelves of the Food Bank year round.

For a four month period leftover citrus fruit at homes around Tucson finds its way to the Food Bank.

The process is called gleaning.

One by one, grapefruits were falling off the tree at Sherri Morton's home.  The tree produces barrels and barrels full of grapefruits, too many for her to eat.

"I moved here five years ago and it was in my second year that I realized there was so much fruit," said homeowner Sherri Morton.

The first thing that came to mind was to give it away to neighbors or any one she knew.  Then Morton found out about the gleaning program at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

"My sister and a contractor told me to contact the Community Food Bank.  I never thought about it before because I believe they only accepted canned food not citrus and as it turned out it's a win-win for everyone," Morton said.

The program allows families that have an overflow of citrus fruit that would normally be thrown away to have the fruit collected by the Community Food Bank which in turn gives it to families that are in need.

"I think it's terrific and its amazing how quickly this fruit will go out to the public," Morton said.

Once is citrus is collected, the fruits are stored in the Food Bank freezer.  Then after inspection, it will be handed out in addition to the food boxes.

Miguel Santacruz collects the fruit, but it wasn't so long ago that he was receiving assistance from the Food Bank.

"It feels good, you know.  I mean at one point and time I was receiving the food box, but things change, god helps everybody, and I'm here working for the Food Bank now," Santacruz said.

Last year, the Food Bank had to cancel the gleaning program, because most of the citrus was frozen and ruined by frigid temperatures.

The Food Bank hopes this year there will be boxes overflowing with locally grown fruit.

Learn more about the Community Food Bank Gleaning program.