How the We Feed Washington Grant Supports Local Farms and Food Assistance Efforts

Helping Hands Food Bank is excited to announce that it is one of the recipients of the We Feed Washington grant through the Washington State Department of Agriculture. With this grant, Helping Hands Food Bank will receive $250,000 each of the next two years to purchase food from local food producers.

“People who come to Helping Hands Food Bank want fresh and healthy foods,” said CEO Rebecca Skrinde. “And everyone deserves the dignity of choosing healthy foods for their family. We do our best to provide fresh, healthy foods, and this grant will greatly increase our capacity to do that. And we get to support local farms. In essence, it allows us to “buy local, give local.”

According to the We Feed Washington website, the focus of this grant is to fill gaps in Washington’s “food assistance safety net by fostering economic vitality among producers and creating access for low-income people across the state.”

Helping Hands Food Bank was chosen as a partner in this program for the next two years because of its unique ability to meet the objectives of the grant:

  • Feed people (Helping Hands has zero prequalification requirements to receive access to resources)
  • Support Washington farmers and food businesses

“We’re excited about the opportunity to work with local food producers in this area and help them grow,” said Helping Hands Operations Manager Erik Larsen.

The grant requires recipients to use 70% of the funding on locally-grown produce from FDA-approved farmers; the remaining 30% can be used for other locally produced foods (like eggs, dairy products, etc) from FDA-approved facilities.

“We’ve been working really hard to build relationships with local farms,” said Food Procurement & Inventory Manager Sherry Klander. “This grant will go a long way to supporting them – because farming can be a tough business – and providing our participants with the healthy, locally grown food they deserve.”

Part of the Vision of Helping Hands Food Bank is to “ensure every citizen has access to high-quality food and resources to help them thrive.” We are excited to partner with We Feed Washington to further this vision and improve access to fresh, healthy, and locally produced foods.

In a study performed by the CDC, 85% of food bank participants said it was important to have fresh fruits and vegetables, but only 52% of those said they were always available. The conclusion of the study found that the most-requested types of food were healthy foods, which were inconsistently available.