SQUASH OUT HUNGER IN CLALLAM COUNTY09 Nov 2017, by Harvest Blog, Harvest VISTA, Washington state, WSU Extension Clallam County in
Harvest Against Hunger AmeriCorps VISTA member Juliann Finn is serving as the second year VISTA with the Washinton State University Extension of Clallam County. She describes a recent community project she supported in her community:
Community champion and retired farmer Don Johnson donated 4,000 lbs. of winter squash to the Peninsula Food Coalition (PFC) this October. The hubbard and banana squash were then distributed to 13 of the PFC’s partners, from the Sequim Food Bank to the Hoh Tribal Food Bank on the west end of the county. A trunk full of squash was set aside for a processing event on October 30th.
The Port Angeles School District allowed the PFC to rent space in a newly vacant culinary teaching kitchen as a way to explore new uses for the facility. Coalition members and over a dozen community volunteers were able to process the squash into 19 gallons of frozen cubed squash and 36 quarts of pureed squash. The processed squash was delivered to the Port Angeles and Sequim Food Bank. Three representatives from the school district were able to attend and agreed that it was a great trial run of community-led processing.
This event wouldn’t have been possible without a pilot processing event in 2016. The first applesauce processing event was led by first year Harvest Against Hunger AmeriCorps VISTA, Dan Littlefield, where 50 gallons of applesauce was made for Meals on Wheels at the Elwha Heritage Center. The clients enjoyed the product and volunteers enjoyed the process. “Squash out Hunger” was the last of 7 processing events held in 2017. In addition, in partnership with the Port Angeles Community Center and Forks Feeding 5,000, the PFC held 3 applesauce processing events with each organization.
These events are the manifestation of a united community: Don Johnson has offered to grow the same amount of squash for donation next year, the volunteers signed up to return next year, and the gleaning program continues to grow. Finally, WSU Clallam County Extension will be fostering this growth over the next two years with a NIFA grant aimed at creating community cooking classes with local produce.