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. Initiated by a Regional Food System grant from the King Conservation District, the program provides food banks, meals programs, senior centers, and other community organizations distributing free food with 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.
We are developing direct purchasing agreements between farmers and organizations as well as piloting new ideas, 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 small-scale farmers to make donations, purchasing produce allows food assistance providers to establish good rapport, fostering ongoing, mutually beneficial relationships. Additionally, we provide regular networking and resource-sharing opportunities among the agency partners, as well as outreach support.
KCFS continues into 2022 thanks to COVID aid funding through Public Health Seattle/King County! Farmers interested in connecting with local food access organizations with aligned food needs and delivery windows can fill out our match-up survey: bit.ly/KCFSfarms
History and Growth
In 2019, the inaugural year of KCFS linked diverse small-scale growers 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
In response to the impacts of COVID-19, in August 2020, 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 food access agency whose needs align with your produce availability and delivery schedule!
2020 KCFS Partnerships
Thanks to the work of a University of Washington student volunteer, we offer this interactive data visualization of KCFS’s cumulative impact and expansion since the program’s beginning. If you are a current Farm to Community agency and want to replicate this tool with your farm partnership data, please contact us and we can set you up with the data files in the program R and instructions.