For years, Nash’s Organic Produce has worked with gleaners from OlyCap who come on Mondays and collect market returns from the weekend and culls from our washing lines (veggies that are completely safe to eat, but not perfect in appearance). The gleaners deliver the veggies to food banks in Sequim, Port Angeles, and Forks, as well as to several assisted living homes, Peninsula Mental Health, and other facilities to help the needy on the Peninsula.
Last spring, Mark Ozias (above, right), Executive Director of the Sequim Food Bank and candidate for Clallam County Commissioner, received a grant from a generous individual donor to help food bank clients improve their diets. He started with a needs assessment survey and was surprised to find that fresh fruits and vegetables were among the items his clients most desired. And yet, boxes of local, organic vegetables were being delivered to the food bank every week and were not picked up. He decided to try something novel to resolve the disconnect.
“I created a Farmers Market at the Food Bank,” Ozias says, “and it really features the beautiful vegetables. Along with the produce, we have dietitian and nutritionist Dr. Monica Dixon (right) doing cooking demos and passing out recipes. We also have Devon Beck from Nash’s talking up the benefits of this great produce.”
Every client may pick up $20 worth of fresh produce for free. The grant pays Nash’s farm for the produce and for the vendor’s time. “It’s a win-win,” says Devon. “It’s important, especially for children, to have fruits and vegetables in their diets.”
“This is the second food bank market,” says Ozias, “and we hope it’s not the last. It’s been a great success.”