Seventh Grade Goes Gleaning to Feed the Hungry


Mrs. Oster

Seventh grade student Taylor Grande smiles for the camera as she gleans

While farming is not a class at The Benjamin School, the seventh-grade recently had a lesson in harvesting as they visited the Mecca Family Farm in Boynton Beach to glean (or pick) tomatoes for families in need. This activity was organized by TBS in partnership with CROS Ministries, an organization based in Lake Worth that has been committed to ending hunger in Palm Beach County for the past 40 years.

Being on a field picking tomatoes is no easy task even in perfect weather, but in a rainstorm, the seventh grade, led by Mrs. Stephanie Oster, chair of the middle school science department, managed to pick 121 boxes of tomatoes. That is equivalent to 4,200 servings of vegetables.

Although the weather was poor, the students still enjoyed the experience. “My favorite part about gleaning was being with my friends and having fun while doing something good for the community,” said seventh-grader Talia Miller.

Gleaning is important because we are able to help homeless families as well as families in need,” said fellow seventh-grader Luca Balzano. “I have never picked tomatoes before and it was just very fun. I had the chance to also help load the buckets of tomatoes onto the truck.”

The faculty and administrators who went on the trip also enjoyed participating.

“My favorite part about gleaning was seeing how committed and how hard the students worked, especially in the bad weather conditions,” said Oster.

“[The students] picked at and attacked the tomatoes, and gleaned that field and not one child complained,” said HEad of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy. “That was an amazing thing for me. The students did not complain because they were helping people. This warmed my heart. They picked 4,500 meals without a complaint. You cannot say that about every group of kids,” he said.

This community service project has allowed Benjamin students to help needy individuals and families for a number of years, and the practice of gleaning has been a time-honored tradition in many cultures for generations.

“If you go back thousands of years, gleaning fields is a traditional part of service that was used to provide food for the needy,” said Hagy.

In addition to picking tomatoes, this project also allowed the seventh-grade to work together and bond with one another.  

“It was the ultimate team effort,” said Hagy. “How many activities can we find where we have all the teachers, all the students, and all the administrators together and we have one project to work on that will take a whole morning and help many people?” asked Hagy. “Gleaning is a great way to help others and it is sustainable. All those tomatoes would have gone to waste without gleaning,” he said.  

At the end of the day, all of those who participated felt good about what they had accomplished.

“Gleaning can make all the difference because we are supplying all this food to people in need at the Palm Beach County Food Bank,” said Oster. “I would absolutely like to do this project again, and maybe more than once a year,” she said.