The 2015 Farm to Food Pantry Purchasing Report says "one in six Washington residents used their local food pantry last year, meaning about 140 million pounds of food went to roughly 8.5 million clients through 500 of the charitable sites." (Purchasing report graphic: Totals from the 2014 pilot program)
"The plan was financed with existing state food assistance dollars diverted to sustain the new concept," Hagar reports. "Not only does the program benefit low-income families without requiring additional state money, it benefits farmers and supports agricultural conservation practices, state officials say. Washington, however, didn’t want to administer the new program, so it teamed with Rotary First Harvest, the nonprofit offshoot of the Seattle-area Rotary district."
In Walla Walla, Jeff Mathias, director of Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank "said he took the $2,500 received from the state, pledged $1,500 in hoped-for donations and split the total of $4,000 among four Walla Walla Valley farmers," Hagar writes. "In return for their $1,000, each farm has committed to give BMAC at least that much back in produce at under wholesale prices, Mathias said." (Read more)