For the second time this year, our member food banks and meal programs gathered together for a regional workshop. Our network of 275 food banks, meal programs, and shelters operate all over Western Washington, so we were excited by the chance to meet with many of the agencies from Kitsap, Mason, Clallam and Jefferson Counties.
A common issue for our member agencies is the high demand and low supply of produce, so this workshop in Bremerton focused on creative ways to source more produce. Local experts shared their stories and advice about how to help get more fresh fruits and vegetables into the hands of food bank clients. Plus the day was a fun chance for colleagues from across the peninsula to meet and get to know each other.
The day started off with a panel of food sourcing experts.
- Julia Zander, the Market Manager of the Bremerton Farmers Market, shared exciting news about produce donation programs being developed at local farmers markets, and talked about some of the publicly funded programs that make it easier for low income individuals to access fresh fruits and vegetables at their local farmers markets.
- Judy Jones, Operations Manager of the Client Services Center at the Thurston County Food Bank, inspired guests by talking about the many ways her agency procures fresh produce year-round. One of our favorite programs? Their Winter Produce Drives at area grocery stores, which ensure that food bank clients get a variety of fresh produce during months when apples, potatoes, and onions are typically the only donated products in abundance.
- Karole Johnson, the Executive Director of new non-profit Seeds of Grace, shared tips for setting up community gardens in impoverished communities.
After a delicious lunch sponsored by the Kitsap County Food Bank Coalition, Minta MacPherson of Bremerton Foodline, along with therapy dog, Daisy, surprised us with a delightful reading of Maddi’s Fridge, a children’s book by Lois Brandt and Vin Vogel that looks at child hunger.
We wrapped up the workshop with a presentation by Food Lifeline staff on how to effectively and efficiently train volunteers on the essentials of food safety.
But you don’t have to take our word for it!
Here are some quotes from workshop participants:
“It sparked thought about our existing program and how to make improvements.”
“Just being around a group of like-minded people working towards a relatively common goal is energizing and motivational.”