A Central Oregon nonprofit put more than 13 tons of fresh, local produce on the shelves of food pantries across the High Desert in 2022 and they plan to do it again in 2023.
Increasing access to fresh, local food is what the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance aims to do.
“We collect food from farmers and farmers market patrons and then give it to NeighborImpact and then they distribute it to their 56 hunger relief agencies,” said Katrina Van Dis, Executive Director of the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance.
For Katrina and her team, the program titled “Grow and Give” has been a tremendous success.
“So, 15,000 pounds is our goal each year. So 26,000 is over 15, obviously,” said Katrina. “The pound of food matters but really what matters for us too is making sure that we’re getting the food that people want or don’t have access to.”
And what people want is fresh produce.
“We did food pantry surveys last year and found that people really want leafy greens. So kale, lettuce, things that are really perishable that grocery stores, typically by the time it gets to the person that’s eating it, it’s not very good,” said Katrina. “And so we’re getting fresh food that’s local and that’s getting to people within two days.”
Within two days, the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance has the produce moved from farm to storage to distribution all across Central Oregon. It’s all made possible through their partnerships with local farmers and NeighborImpact — truly offering fresh, fast, farm-to-table produce opportunities.
“What we hear from the pantries is that the clients are eager for this type of food. It’s a little bit better, more nutritious. There’s more variety. What this does for me is it brings so much joy knowing that we’re providing food that everybody might want. I mean, our slogan is, ‘Everybody deserves good food,'” said Katrina.
If you’d like to help The High Desert Food and Farm Alliance put thousands of pounds of fresh produce on food pantry shelves next year, head to their website www.HDFFA.org. They are always looking for more volunteers.