King County Farmers Share
Building relationships for a healthy, sustainable local food system.
Harvest Against Hunger is expanding upon our Farm to Food Pantry program within our very own King County, Washington, in which 1 out of every 10 people lives in poverty1. Through the King County Farmers Share (KCFS), we are collaborating with hunger relief agencies, small farms, and aggregators within the county. Thanks to a two-year grant from the King Conservation District, agencies can apply for funding to purchase produce directly from farmers. Establishing these connections will both increase the amount, variety, quality, and consistency of local produce available to food insecure King County residents and support local farmers with a consistent, profitable outlet for produce.
We are developing direct purchasing agreements between farmers and food banks as well as piloting new ideas and models, creating flexible arrangements that support the varied needs of our partners. Like F2FP, agencies and farms can arrange contracts upfront (pre-harvest) or as extra unharvested produce becomes available during the growing season, ensuring fresh, healthy food goes to people rather than to waste. Since it is not always financially feasible for farmers to make donations, purchasing produce allows food banks to establish good rapport, fostering ongoing, mutually beneficial relationships. Additionally, we provide networking and resource-sharing opportunities among the agency partners, as well as outreach support.
The Pilot Network
In 2019, the inaugural year of KCFS linked diverse small-scale growers (the outside of the diagram) to the following hunger relief agencies and/or their member food banks:
- Seattle Food Committee, which represents almost 30 hunger relief programs and food banks around Seattle
- Hopelink, a social services nonprofit serving north and east King County, which manages 5 food banks
- South King County Food Coalition, which represents 12 member food banks
- Mary’s Place, which provides meals in 9 emergency family shelters and a Day Center throughout King County
Increasing these links within King County’s local food system ultimately creates a stronger network that not only increases access to healthy food, but addresses sustainability from the three-pillar approach:
- Economic (financially supporting small-scale agriculture)
- Environmental (reducing food waste and food miles)
- Social (establishing robust, diversified partnerships)
In response to the impacts of COVID-19, in August, HAH subcontracted with a portion of King County’s CARES Act funding to expand the local emergency food system’s purchasing from King County farms through fresh sheets ordering and forward contracting through the end of 2020. These funds also supported payments toward King County eggs, dairy, and meat; and we also brought senior centers and community nonprofits newly distributing food into the program–broadening KCFS’s reach!
In addition, King Conservation District awarded KCFS additional funding to expand and extend the program through the end of 2021. Thank you, KCD!
Interested in participating? Reach out to us!
If you’re a small-scale King County farm whose sales have been impacted by closed farmers markets, restaurants, schools, or your other usual sales outlets, we’d love to connect you with a local hunger relief agency whose needs align with your produce availability and delivery schedule!