For the past three years, WSDA’s Food Assistance Programs have been managing a pilot program with the goal of getting more fresh produce into local food banks, while at the same time connecting local farms to the non-profits feeding the hungry in their communities.
Through the Farm to Food Pantry pilot program, WSDA has provided grants to food banks that, in turn, use the money to buy produce directly from local growers. Recently, the Food Assistance Programs staff partnered with the Washington State Dairy Council to conduct a tour of one local farm providing fresh produce to a local food pantry to showcase this effort.
|Touring the HopeLink Food|
The Dairy Council produced the brief video of the tour, featured in this article, which includes remarks from WSDA Director Derek Sandison and Deputy Director Kirk Robinson.
In 2015, the Farm to Food Pantry program provided $14,000 in grant funding to six food pantries in Snohomish, Chelan, King, Okanogan, Clark and Stevens counties. Rotary First Harvest of Seattle was contracted to coordinate the distribution of these funds and local operations.
Most of the organizations also obtained matching funds from private groups, in some cases doubling the amount of funding they received. More details on the pilot project with feedback from the participating food banks are included in the “2015 Farm to Food Pantry Purchasing Report.”