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 (or “Regional Agencies”) should consider creating early-season 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.
See the F2FP Guidance Document for detailed information about initiative eligibility, procedures, deliverables, and resources.
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.
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! We’ve traditionally worked with one regional agency per county, but may allow additional depending on county population and available funding. We will prioritize applicants serving areas that have not previously been reached by F2FP.
Legislative District Information Sheets
Our partners 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
Contracting and Program Models
Specific program models used (e.g. scheduled pre-harvest purchase vs. ad-hoc post-harvest purchase) are determined by the host site and will be based on needs of the local food access program and their farm partners. It is important that the host site creates a balance between increasing and diversifying the availability of fresh local food for lower-income individuals, while also supporting the viability of local small-scale agriculture. These relationships are often flexible enough that farmers are able to sell everything they grow in a season.
Further, since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, distribution sites for F2FP food have branched out beyond traditional food pantries to other locations where Regional Agencies are building partnerships to reach more community members: low-income housing developments, mobile food pantries, schools, and other community centers.
Testing, Learning, Growing
Although F2FP began in 2014, we will still approach it as a pilot by encouraging participants to develop new models in close partnership with their farm, pantry, and community partners. Exploring and sharing new ideas and projects help us and the F2FP agency network 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 are more varied.
Additionally, in 2021, WSDA began also contributing USDA Farm to Food Bank funding to F2FP for purchasing gleaning supplies for Regional Agencies serving food pantries in TEFAP. Read more details about the impact on the WSDA website!
We believe the ongoing expansion of the F2FP initiative is an effective way to support diversified small-scale agriculture through food access networks and look forward to continuing to develop this winning formula for hunger relief and food system localization around Washington.
- Blue Mountain Action Council
- Bonney Lake Community Resources
- Chelan-Douglas Community Action Council
- Clark County Food Bank
- Coastal Harvest / WSU Grays Harbor County Extension
- Community Action Center, Whitman
- Community Action of Skagit County
- Council on Aging & Human Services
- Eatonville Family Agency
- Emergency Food Network
- Farmer Frog
- Feeding Feasible Feasts
- Ferndale Food Bank
- Food for All, Catholic Charities Spokane
- Friday Harbor Food Bank
- Friends in Service to Humanity (FISH), Kittitas
- Good Cheer Food Bank
- Kitsap Conservation District
- Lifelong (Chicken Soup Brigade)
- Lopez Island Family Resource Center
- Making A Difference Foundation
- Nourish Pierce County
- O.I.C. of Washington
- Olympic Community Action Programs
- Orcas Island Food Bank
- Okanogan County Community Action Council
- Rainier Valley Food Bank
- Rural Resources Community Action / N.E.W. Hunger Coalition
- Sumner Community Food Bank
- SW WA LULAC Foundation
- Thurston County Food Bank
- Upper Valley MEND
- WSU Extension, Clallam & Jefferson
- WSU Extension, Lewis / Lewis County Food Bank Coalition
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