Farm to Food Pantry

A collaboration for hunger relief and agricultural development

Getting fresh produce into the food assistance system is an important part of hunger-relief efforts across Washington.

Harvest Against Hunger partners with the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), Harvest VISTA host sites, farmers, food pantries, and local funders to expand the Farm to Food Pantry initiative that launched in 2014. The pilot began in response to a series of grower roundtables with small-scale farmers around WA, which indicated that it wasn’t always financially feasible for small farms to donate to food pantries, but funding to create a purchasing relationship could offer a valuable opportunity to enhance the local small farm landscape.

Results from each year since show that buying directly from a local farmer will increase the variety, nutrient density, and availability of local crops in food pantries, thus improving access to healthier food choices for families and individuals experiencing nutritional insecurity.  These direct purchasing contracts dramatically strengthen the bond between farmers and hunger-relief programs. Results continue to show that if a farmer has a strong relationship with a local food pantry, they are significantly more inclined to make additional produce donations through either gleaning or post-harvest. F2FP has fostered relationships across local food pantries, farmers markets, farm service organizations, nutrition education programs, and more!

We’ve compiled reports from previous seasons in our online Produce Recovery Guide. Recommendations from previous pilot programs show that sites should consider creating contracts with growers, making payments before delivery (“seeds in the ground”), and engaging multiple farms. By taking these steps, the sites should be able to grow new relationships and strengthen the existing ones that they have with local farms.

Now accepting applications for F2FP regional agencies!

HAH and WSDA are calling for applications for hunger relief organizations, tribes, and public agencies to implement the Farm to Food Pantry (F2FP) Initiative in their region for the remainder of the 2022 – 2023 biennium, through June 30, 2023. Applications are open until November 30, 2021. Application materials are listed below. 

  1. Call for Applications – Funding details, eligibility criteria, application process timeline
  2. F2FP Guidance Document – Manual for implementation guidance, administrative requirements, and resources
  3. Application Form (If you’d like to download the questions as a PDF for review, click here.)

Questions? Reach out to maddie@harvestagainsthunger.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

Requirements for data reporting, maintaining organization eligibility, and administrative procedures are outlined in the Guidance Document. After successful applicants are selected, we will send a poll to determine a day/time for monthly virtual cohort meetings that fit most of the agency coordinators’ schedules; we ask that F2FP coordinators attend at least 50% of these meetings.

Ultimately, we expect regional agencies to engage with F2FP as more than just a funding source, but as a foundation to develop sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships with local small-scale farms that engage your stakeholders in supporting equitable local food systems as well. Local food systems are all about relationships! Communication is key–especially with farms, so that they’re clear on what/how much produce you want delivered and when. We hope that you promote your local farm partnerships in your food distribution, on social media, and other outreach. 

HAH sends funding to the regional agency, which then pays the farms directly. 

It depends on capacity! In HAH’s programs, it has most commonly been the farms delivering — for example, it might be convenient for the farm to deliver on their way to/from a delivery to a farmers market, CSA pick-up site, or restaurant customer. In rural areas, agencies may arrange a more central pick up location. It is up to agencies to work with their farm partners to determine the most feasible plan.

WSDA has seasonality charts showing what fruits, herbs, vegetables, and legumes are in season in WA throughout the year. We expect agencies to talk with farm partners about the produce they’re planning to grow for the year and when it will be available.

Because of the multiple streams of perishable food in the food assistance system, we want to ensure the contractor is aware of the activity and avoid duplication of programming.

Farms must be licensed with the Washington State Dept. of Revenue. Agencies are expected to work with small-scale farms (~ <100 acres) located within their service area or adjacent counties.

Pricing varies by region, so it may help to ask a farm local to you that already wholesales about the prices on their “fresh sheets.” If you’d be working with a direct-to-consumer farm that’s new to wholesaling, we’ve seen some F2FP agencies around WA identify 50% of a farmer’s market price as a standard for a high-end wholesale market. Farms may or may not be able to offer a discounted rate for food assistance customers or for produce that was unsold at the farmers market that day — we recommend that both parties be flexible, but F2FP aims to support farms with fair market prices.

See our list of 2021 regional agencies on this page below!

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Farms participated in F2FP 2020
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Food pantries received produce from F2FP in 2020
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WA Counties served through F2FP in 2020
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Pounds of produce purchased/gleaned/donated through F2FP in 2020

Legislative District Information Sheets

Our friends at the Washington State Department of Agriculture created a series of Legislative District Information sheets that show F2FP impact in communities across the state. 

Each sheet provides detailed information organized by legislative district, including:

  • Lead agency or agencies
  • Amount of 2018 state and community investment
  • Pounds of produce purchased
  • Total pounds of produce received
  • Participating food pantries
  • Participating farms
  • Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) service data
Farm to Food Pantry placard

Contracting and Program Models

Specific program models used (e.g. scheduled pre-harvest purchase vs. ad-hoc post-harvest purchase) will be determined by the host site and will be based on needs of the local hunger relief program. It is important that the host site creates a balance between increasing the availability of healthy produce for lower-income individuals, while also supporting local agricultural efforts.

A close-up of hands full of dark green fresh peppers

Testing, Learning, Growing

Although F2FP began its 8th year in the spring of 2021, we will still approach it as a pilot by encouraging participants to develop new models in close partnership with their growers. This will help us to develop a deeper understanding of what makes partnerships effective and beneficial for all parties. What works well in some communities may not work in other areas where farming practices and growing seasons are different, or food bank needs more diverse.

We believe the ongoing expansion of the F2FP initiative is an effective way to support diversified small-scale agriculture through food pantries, and look forward to continuing to develop this winning formula for hunger relief and food system localization around Washington.

2021 F2FP Locations

We are pleased to announce our 2021 F2FP initiative partner sites:

  • Blue Mountain Action Council
  • Clark County Food Bank
  • Coastal Harvest / WSU Grays Harbor County Extension
  • Community Action of Skagit County
  • Council on Aging & Human Services
  • Emergency Food Network
  • Food for All, Catholic Charities Spokane
  • Good Cheer Food Bank
  • Hopelink
  • Kitsap Conservation District
  • Lewis County Food Bank Coalition
  • N.E.W. Hunger Coalition
  • Nourish Pierce County
  • O.I.C. of Washington
  • Orcas Island Food Bank
  • Okanogan County Community Action Council
  • Thurston County Food Bank
  • Upper Valley MEND
  • WA Dept. of Veterans Affairs
  • WA Gorge Action Programs
  • WSU Clallam County Extension
  • WSU Jefferson County Extension

2020 F2FP Report

Click on the photo to the right to view and download the full 2020 Farm to Food Pantry report.

The report highlights activities from each of the 15 participating Lead Agencies, as well as spotlight information on new strategies and programs that were developed to better connect participating sites with local farmers in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report also provides qualitative and quantitative information gleaned from both farmers and food pantries that partnered with Lead Agencies, including:

  • Counties served
  • Key findings
  • Types of crops purchased and donated (per site)
  • Pounds of crops purchased and donated (per site)
  • Feedback from farmers and food pantries
  • Recommendations for future project development
  • Opportunities for sharing the initiative across additional areas