(June 3, 5:23 p.m.) The Society of St. Andrew, which links growers and others in the produce industry with food banks and feeding programs, is extending its operation west of the Mississippi with an office in Kansas City, Mo.

The Big Island, Va.-based organization, which gathers surplus fresh produce from growers and packers and arranges for delivery to food banks and agencies, opened its Western headquarters in mid-May 15 to service Kansas City food banks and, eventually, organizations in western U.S. states, said Lisa Ousley, director of the new headquarters.

While the nonprofit organization has traditionally worked with product throughout the U.S., it focused on programs east of the Mississippi. The Kansas City office, however, should allow the society to develop more of a western presence, and work with more growers in California, Oregon, Washington and New Mexico, Ousley said.

“SoSA West will fulfill a dream of the founders of the Society of St. Andrew — to expand the organization west of the Mississippi,” Ousley said. “There is so much opportunity in the West.”

The Society of St. Andrew has a gleaning program, using volunteers to harvest crops that would otherwise be plowed over or diverted from the food chain. It also works with transportation companies and the shippers to haul the product to food banks.

At the new office, the society plans to collaborate with Harvesters — The Community Food Network, a Kansas City-based member of America’s Second Harvest, delivering food to more than 550 organizations throughout the metropolitan area, Ousley said.

The organization expects to provide five million pounds of fresh produce to Kansas City’s emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, children’s homes and others in its first year of operation, Ousley said.

To contact SoSA West Headquarters in Kansas City, call 816-921-0856 or email sosawest@endhunger.org.

Hunger relief group expands to aid western states
The Society of St. Andrew's new SoSA West in Kansas City will host events like the one pictured here, where volunteers in Virginia bag potatoes to send to a local food bank. Produce salvaged by the SoSA West Gleaning Network volunteers will go to food banks and other feeding agencies in the western states.