Kim Hack knows there's plenty of fresh food in the ground and dangling from trees. More than enough to feed local families who may be short...

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VANCOUVER, Wash. — Kim Hack knows there’s plenty of fresh food in the ground and dangling from trees. More than enough to feed local families who may be short of cash these days.

It’s just a matter of asking farmers for permission to go after surplus crops they can’t sell, and arranging for volunteer gleaners to harvest it in return for a small share.

The majority goes to local food banks.

Hack is a 23-year-old volunteer at AmeriCorps’s Volunteers in Service to America. She’s the gleaning coordinator for Urban Abundance and the Clark County Food Bank.

“It’s not fighting hunger,” said Hack, who’s taking a break from environmental-science classes at Portland State University. “It’s creating abundance. This is food that otherwise would go to waste.”

On two weekends in December, a handful of gleaners went to work at Purple Rain Vineyard, a certified organic farm in Hockinson, Clark County.

On one Saturday, “Six volunteers harvested 491.5 pounds of root vegetables, rutabaga, parsnips, leeks, shallots and onions,” Hack said in an email. “Thirty-six pounds went home with volunteers and the remainder to the St. Vincent De Paul food pantry in Vancouver.”

Purple Rain is the first farm Hack has worked with. It’s a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, meaning that it sells subscriptions to members before the growing season for deliveries of colorful seasonal produce.

“By sharing the food we grow, our partnership with the land and our philosophy, we then celebrate with you, your family and friends the connection of seasonal foods and the earth,” owners Luisa DePaiva and James Voisin said.

Such fresh foods are a far cry from the canned foods that many drives collect, although both are important. The virtues of canned foods are they are nonperishable, can contain meat for protein and don’t really require cooking.

And few people would argue against the nutritional value and flavor of fresh, seasonal, organic vegetables and fruits.

This winter, Hack said, her job will be contacting more growers, restaurant associations, neighborhood associations, volunteers and others to get more people involved in gleaning projects.

Fresh food on a much larger scale is being grown at Heritage Farm, the former county poor farm, said Bill Coleman, secretary-treasurer of the board of the Clark County Food Bank.

For the past three years, thousands and thousands of pounds of carrots and mixed vegetables have been grown there.