Breakdown of The Walla Walla Valley Food System Coalition

18 Jan 2023, by Admin in Harvest Blog, Harvest VISTA, Harvest Against Hunger

AmeriCorps member Bethany Brown serves as the Community Food System Harvest VISTA at Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank in Walla Walla, Washington. The overall goal of the Harvest VISTA program is to reduce food waste while increasing the amount of fresh nutritious produce available to people experiencing poverty by building capacity within sustainable gleaning, produce recovery, and other food system programs. Bethany is the Coordinator for the Walla Walla Valley Food Coalition.

There are two projects that the Walla Walla Valley Food System Coalition is working on this year. The two projects have separate subcommittees which Bethany participates in. This first subcommittee is to promote “Eat Local”. The project the committee is working on is to get local farmers to list their businesses on the WA Farm Food Finder website. WA Far Food Finder is a database that people can go to access local, farm fresh food. The website also includes local restaurants, grocery stores, food pantries and prepared meals. The purpose of this website is to serve as a one stop resource for food resources. It also serves as a way to reach out to untapped farmers to encourage them to sign up as a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Retailer. As a SNAP retailer, low-income residents have the opportunity to purchase fresh produce.

The purpose of the second subcommittee is to develop a Shared-Use Food Processing and Manufacturing Facility. This subcommittee was formed three years ago and has done a lot of good work. They funded a feasibility study that was centered around BMAC Food Bank. This year the Food Bank has redirected its goals from a Pantry style to a Distribution style. Therefore, the committee is in the process of gathering funding for an updated feasibility study that has a lesser focus on Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC) Food Bank. With this said, the development of a local shared-use food processing and manufacturing facility continues to benefit the Food Banks goal of building capacity by promoting, advancing and building the Walla Walla Valley agriculture community as well as gaining new and sustaining old relationships.