The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) and Rotary First Harvest (RFH) will replicate the "Produce Purchasing Project" that was piloted at three Harvest Against Hunger host sites in 2014. For 2015, the project will continue under a new title of “Farm to Food Pantry”, which will add new sites and incorporate matching funds from private sources.
2014 Produce Purchasing Project
Getting fresh produce into the emergency food system is an increasingly important part of hunger-relief efforts in communities across Washington. It also plays a critical role in meeting Results Washington goals for ensuring all Washingtonians are healthy, safe, and supported. During the 2014 growing season, Washington Food Coalition, in partnership with RFH and its Harvest Against Hunger AmeriCorps* VISTA program worked with three sites to develop pilot programs to purchase produce locally from small farmers.
Results from last season’s efforts in Carnation, Vancouver and Colville indicate that purchasing directly from a local farmer will increase the sale of local crops while improving access to healthier food choices for hungry families. In addition, buying produce directly from the farmers dramatically strengthens the bond between farmer and food bank. If a farmer has a strong relationship with a local food bank they will be more inclined to make additional produce donations.
Additional best practice recommendations from 2014 pilot programs indicate that sites should consider creating contracts with growers, making payments before delivery (“seeds in the ground)”, and engaging multiple farms. By taking these steps, the sites should be able to grow new relationships and strengthen the existing ones that they have with local farms.
2015 Farm to Food Pantry
In order to continue to develop the momentum gained last season, WSDA has dedicated funding for this year and has asked RFH to coordinate the project. RFH received funds from the Thread Fund to help expand the project to additional sites. This year, WSDA and RFH recommend that recipient sites use these funds to leverage locally matching funds to increase the amount available for these projects. While a match is not required, preference may be given to host sites that can come up with some form of matching funds.
As an illustrative example of a regional value chain effort, the below infographic provides insights from the Thread Fund’s experience regarding how donors—through grantmaking and investments—can help support the creation and viability of regional value chains.
The Thread Fund
Copyright © 2016
Copyright © 2016