Farm to Food Pantry
A collaboration for hunger relief and agricultural development
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.
Rotary First Harvest is partnering with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Harvest Against Hunger host sites and other funding sources to expand the Farm to Food Pantry program that we launched as a pilot program in 2014, and has expanded for the 2017 growing season.
Results from last season’s F2FP efforts showed that purchasing directly from a local farmer will increase the availability of local crops while improving access to healthier food choices for families and individuals in need. Buying produce directly from the farmers also dramatically strengthens the bond between farmer and food bank. Our experience has shown that if a farmer has a strong relationship with a local food bank they are significantly more inclined to make additional produce donations.
We’ve compiled reports from previous seasons in our online RFH Produce Recovery Guide. Recommendations from previous pilot programs show 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.
2017 Farm to Food Pantry
This season 12 partner sites across Washington will be engaged in the F2FP program. In order to continue to develop the momentum gained last season, WSDA dedicated funding for this year and has asked RFH to coordinate the project. RFH identified partial matching funds from other sources to help expand the project to additional sites. Recipient sites will use these funds to leverage locally matching funds to increase the amount available for their projects, effectively doubling the amount of funding available.
Farms participating in F2FP 2016
Food pantries receiving produce through F2FP in 2016
Pounds of healthy produce purchased/gleaned/donated
Specific program models used (e.g. scheduled pre-harvest purchase vs. ad-hoc post-harvest purchase) will be determined by the host site and will be based on needs of the local hunger relief program. It is important that the host site create a balance between increasing the availability of healthy produce for lower-income individuals, while also supporting local agricultural efforts.
Testing, Learning & Growing
Although F2FP is in its fourth year, we will still approach it as a pilot by encouraging participants to develop new models in close partnership with their growers. This will help us to develop a deeper understanding of what makes partnerships effective and beneficial for all parties. What works well in some communities may not work in other areas where farming practices are different, or food bank needs more diverse.
We are excited to see the results our current Farm to Food Pantry program, and believe supporting local agriculture through food pantries will prove to be a winning formula for hunger relief in Washington.