PASCO – Fruit by the foot? How about by the pallet – or a dozen pallets?
Second Harvest received at least 40,460 pounds of Arizona-grown oranges on Thursday at its Pasco distribution facility, sent courtesy of Feeding America.
The citrusy gesture highlights National Agriculture Month, as well as the importance behind Second Harvest’s partnerships with the agriculture industry to help fulfill its mission.
“We’re so fortunate to live in a very agriculturally rich part of the country, and that allows us to share a lot of healthy produce, protein and dairy with families facing food insecurity,” said Jean Tucker, Second Harvest’s philanthropy manager.
“In many parts of the country, the majority of what they distribute is shelf-stable food, so we feel fortunate to offer a healthy mix of healthy food,” she said.
Second Harvest, the Spokane-based nonprofit and hunger relief network, is celebrating its agriculture community all month, including on National Ag Day on March 22. Northwest Agricultural Consultants (NWAC), a local soil analytics laboratory, is sponsoring this month’s activities.
In addition to Thursday’s donation, Second Harvest is also receiving pallets of locally grown onions on Friday.
“We are fortunate to serve the great agricultural industry of the Northwest. The growers, companies and organizations we work with are staffed with knowledgeable, talented and hardworking people who make this industry so remarkable,” Wade Carter, NWAG’s president and lab director, said in a statement.
Second Harvest’s distribution facility in Pasco is a warehouse filled with canned and nonperishable foods, as well as the occasional pallet of fresh produce.
From pinto beans and canned tomatoes to potatoes and oranges – tens of thousands of pounds of food come through the facility each month.
From here, food is distributed to about 28 meal programs and food banks scattered across Benton and Franklin, and beyond to seven other neighboring counties, Tucker said.
“It’s very rewarding work and the need remains high, so we’re doing all we can to meet that need,” she said.
Between their Spokane and Pasco distribution facilities, which combined serve 26 counties in Washington and Idaho, about 40 million pounds of food were distributed last year.
That’s a noticeable decline from the 52.8 million pounds distributed in 2020, when COVID-19 came on the scene, but hasn’t settled back to the pre-pandemic levels they saw in 2019 at 33.6 million pounds.
Now with inflation, families in the Tri-Cities and beyond on limited or fixed incomes continue to struggle.
“Rising prices mean that families are having to make really difficult choices,” Tucker said.
“ ‘Do I buy groceries, do I pay for my prescription? Do I get food, or do I pay for my car repair and gas?’ Those are the impossible choices that people are going to have to make, and that also increases the number of people reaching out to food banks or assistance to fill the gap.”
How to help
Second Harvest is always looking for three things: food, funds and friends.
Volunteers can register online to help sort and repack food at their Pasco facility.
“It’s a fun way to give back, to work with the food going directly out to families in need,” Tucker said.
Or you can also donate to Second Harvest, which helps them source food for families.
Every $1 given provides food for five meals, Tucker said.
Those with a potential bulk food source can also contact Second Harvest.
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