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Watermelon Crawl helps fight hunger

Hunger is a huge problem in Arkansas, so to help fight it Saturday, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and Society of Saint Andrew organized the first ever Watermelon Crawl in Scott.
SCOTT, AR - Hunger is a huge problem in Arkansas, so to help fight it Saturday, the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance and Society of Saint Andrew organized the first ever Watermelon Crawl in Scott.

Volunteers from companies from all over central Arkansas brought the bug spray, and the muscle, to pick leftover watermelons to feed hungry families.

"Arkansas is ranked first in food insecurity. We are also ranked first in childhood hunger," says Michelle Shope with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.

Saturday, volunteers learned the art of gleaning. It means going into the fields after the harvest to pick leftovers to feed the hungry.

"We're surprised at how much is left. As you can see here, this is what the farmer considers unmarketable for whatever reason whether it be size or shape," says Shope.

"We had a terrible lack of rain this year, so it produced a lot of small watermelons that you see behind us, and I can't do anything with them, so instead of piling them up, we might as well send them to a useful cause," said farmer Brandon Chapman.

In a normal year, Scott Melons and More produces 75 to 100-thousand watermelons. This year, the farm has only produced 150-thousand pounds.

But, farmer Brandon Chapman knew when called upon, he had to help.

"With things going the way they are, everybody's looking for help, and you know, this is one of the ways I can do a part that helps everybody, so it makes me feel good," he said.

Chapman's involvement with the program is growing. Next year, he will grow a patch specifically for the Watermelon Crawl.

"It just seemed like a good thing to do versus wasting a product that someone else could get use out of, it seems like the right thing to do," says Chapman.

In 2010, the group harvested more than 800-thousand pounds of produce to help people right here in Arkansas. The Arkansas Food Bank will distribute the food collected Saturday.
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