On a bicycle tour through uptown neighborhoods last year, Philip Dunn kept noticing wasted citrus — oranges and lemons that had fallen off trees in people’s yards only to rot on the ground.
After a little research, he learned no organized groups picked the fruit so it wouldn’t go to waste. So he decided to do it himself.
Since last summer, Dunn has coordinated a small but growing corps of food activist volunteers. They call themselves urban gleaners, and they scour San Diego neighborhoods, peering over fences and knocking on doors in search of residents willing to let them haul their fruit away to local food pantries, where it’s usually easier to stock up on day-old bread and dented canned food than fresh produce.
Similar groups, modeled after Dunn’s, are popping up around San Diego. Their quest: to ensure that no fresh produce goes to waste in a county where it grows abundantly yet is still inaccessible to many poor families.
“It can be frustrating when you know there’s food going to waste that people could use,” Dunn said. “Sometimes it just horrifies me if I think about it.”