Harvest Against Hunger Americorps VISTA Gayle Lautenschlager serves at Harvest Against Hunger on the King County Farmers Share Program. By developing direct purchasing agreements between farmers and food banks, the program aims to increase access to healthy fresh foods in high need populations.

As the semester enters into the mid term, the South Seattle College’s Food Pantry held its fall semester market day event. The King Conservation District has provided two years of funding to pilot direct farm to food pantry relationships between local growers and food banks. South Seattle College Food Pantry has historically relied on donated produce for the bulk of their regular distribution. Building on lessons from previous market day events, South Seattle College continues to refine this event to best serve students and to raise awareness about the food pantry on campus.

The market day event continues to grow and each event serves more and more students. 161 students were recorded as having been served by this event. This marks a 30% increase over the previous record setting market day event in the Spring. In purchasing directly from a grower, South Seattle College is able to provide culturally relevant produce to reflect the diversity in the student population. Cascadia Greens in Enumclaw, Washington provided produce from their farm as well as from fellow King County growers. Local pears, apples, carrots, kale, chard, potatoes and a variety of squashes were available for students to take. Students were excited to see fresh produce and commented on the quality and flavor of the items. Several students had an on the spot snack of fresh apples or carrots.

The King County Farmers Share program was able to facilitate end of season produce purchasing to help support local farmers while also filling a gap in the availability of fresh produce for students in need at South Seattle College. The organizers of market day have continued to build their local network and are excited to be able to continue to offer a market day event every semester.