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Kristen Shaben, gleaner


Kristen Shaben likes to glean.

No, that wasn't a typo; "gleaning" means to hand-gather crops left in the fields after harvest. As the Charlotte-area gleaning coordinator for the Society of St. Andrew, a hunger relief organization dedicated to gleaning fields to feed the hungry, Shaben organizes events where volunteers gather in local fields and pick food to give to charities and those in need.

Creative Loafing: How did you get involved with the Society of St. Andrew?

Kristen Shaben: As a member of the Mecklenburg County Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters coalition, I receive e-mails announcing gleaning opportunities. My family and I decided to volunteer and were amazed at the experience. The turnip field was so large you couldn't even see the end. My daughter was 2 at the time, and now at 4, she still remembers "tugging turnips." It was a wonderful feeling to pick side by side with other volunteers and know that we were salvaging nutritious food that would otherwise go to waste to feed those in our community who would otherwise go hungry.

What did you do prior to coming to Society of St. Andrew?

I'm a registered dietitian and served as the program coordinator for the Fit City for Fit Families Program with the Mecklenburg County Health Department. Fit City for Fit Families provides families the information and tools they need to raise healthy eaters.

How do you practice eating healthy at home with your family?

My husband and I involve our daughter in every aspect of cooking. We have three backyard gardens where our daughter helps plant, water, tend, harvest and the best part, eat, the food! What we don't grow in our gardens we try to buy from our local farmers market. Our daughter loves taking a trip to "the farm," as she refers to the market.

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