(RNS) — As the number of laid-off workers and hungry Americans continues to rise, even as farmers are having trouble marketing their crops, the ancient practice of gleaning is having a moment — fueled in part by faith communities.

Gleaning, or collecting food left over after a farmer’s harvest, usually set aside for the poor, is familiar to many Jews and Christians from the Hebrew Scripture story of Ruth, the Moabite who meets her husband, Boaz, while gleaning to feed her and her widowed mother-in-law Naomi. In Leviticus the Scripture says gleaning is a divinely commanded way of feeding the poor and the stranger.

In recent years, gleaning has made a comeback as a solution to the problems of persistent hunger and the lack of

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