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Volunteers needed to help harvest squash for those in need

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LIBERTY, MO (KCTV) -

A hunger relief organization needs volunteers to help pick pumpkins and squash that will feed the needy.

The goal is to get 1,000 volunteers to help harvest 1 million pounds of produce for the Squash Hunger Event.

With Halloween over and the fall picking season at an end, Carolyn's Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze has a bumper crop it needs picked by volunteers to feed the hungry through the Society of St. Andrew West. About 3 million pounds of produce is lying in the fields.

"We are very fortunate. We've had a great growing season, a great harvest and a great crop," said owner Carolyn Raasch. "Even though we've had thousands and thousands of people out, we still have quite a few squash and pumpkins left in the field."

Pumpkin and squash is an ideal food, said St. Andrews Director Lisa Ousley.

"It is incredibly nutritious. It is high in beta-carotene and antioxidants," Ousley said. "It's feeding people in need. This wonderful food will go to pantries and soup kitchens. Harvesters will get the first two loads."

Raasch said squash in particular is a versatile vegetable.

"You can hollow out a squash and put your vegetables and meat in it. You can make it a main dish. You can use it as a side dish. You can use it to make a dessert," she said.

Altogether, about 620 different organizations will benefit from Squash Hunger.

The society works to glean fields and orchards of produce that farmers are unable to sell by the end of the season.

"What a gift to give to folks who can't afford their groceries," Ousley said.

The gleaning begins Sunday and ends Wednesday. The gathering hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers should dress comfortably and expect to get messy.

"We desperately need volunteers for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," Ousley said.

Volunteers with pickups or pallets are also needed to help distribute what is collected.

Carolyn's pumpkin patch is at 17607 NE 52nd Street in Liberty.

Last year, the society collected and donated nearly 34 million pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to help feeding programs.

A food pantry, soup kitchen, low-income daycare or senior center within a 200-mile radius of the Kansas City area wanting to receive some of the produce should call 816-921-0856 or email gleankc@endhunger.org.

For more information, click here.

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