Funding from the State Conservation Commission will support food security and food systems across the state
The Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC), in partnership with the Washington State Food Policy Forum, has awarded $48,500 in grants to 10 conservation districts statewide to strengthen our food system, especially in underserved and under-resourced communities.
Grant-funded activities address vulnerabilities in our food system brought to light by the COVID-19 pandemic and identified in a 2020 report by the Food Policy Forum, such as barriers that prevent communities from accessing nutritious food.
“One of the main goals of the Food Policy Forum is to expand and promote programs that bring healthy and nutritious Washington-grown foods to Washington residents,” said SCC Executive Director Chris Pettit. “These food security grants are so important. It’s a win-win for our conservation districts and the communities they support. I am looking forward to seeing these projects implemented on the ground.”
Conservation districts will use grant funding to connect farmers and consumers with food banks, support community gardens, and educate communities about growing and preserving their own food, among other projects. A few specific project examples include:
- Cascadia Conservation District will support a new community garden at the Housing Authority of Chelan County and the City of Wenatchee. The project plans to install raised beds, add soil amendments, compost, and irrigation. Community garden members, the food pantry, and Upper Valley MEND will receive materials about safe food preservation and cooking techniques to ensure the produce harvested from the garden can be preserved and consumed during the winter.
- Kitsap Conservation District will help fund the Kitsap Farm to Freezer Project (F2FR), which processes gleaned, donated, and rescued produce into frozen, ready-to-eat soups, sauces, and salsas for distribution to eight local food banks. The F2FR Project works with partners like SNAP to increase food system equity and access to culturally appropriate foods for under-represented community members. This project has the potential to add 800 servings of culturally appropriate foods for distribution to food banks.
- San Juan Islands Conservation District will develop a portfolio of "farmer-at-work" images and prominently display them at local grocers, food banks, co-ops, and schools. This marketing will help promote local food producers, connect the dots of the local food supply/security map, and increase sales by allowing consumers to "know their farmers." These displays were requested by both farmers and retailers and will play a vital role in connecting the dots between the local food system components.
- Palouse Conservation District will focus on cultivating community food access on the Palouse through workshops, outreach events, and garden tours, among other initiatives. Grant funding will enable the District to develop and implement food access assistance and urban agriculture education campaigns that support residents through the delivery of hands-on experiences and technical assistance in partnership with the Pullman Community Garden at Koppel Farm and establish new relationships with the Council on Aging and Human Services and Backyard Harvest. Through monthly booths, grant funds will also support home gardening and local food production outreach to community members visiting the Pullman Farmers Market.
- Pierce Conservation District will support a pilot project to help urban farmers purchase and develop infrastructure to get their products to market. This could include a wash-pack station, harvesting equipment, and materials for transporting and selling products at a market.
Learn more about the new Washington State Food Policy Forum: https://www.scc.wa.gov/food-policy.