In 2012, Northwest Harvest piloted a donation booth at the Yakima Farmers Market. The booth operated as a partnership between Northwest Harvest and a different hunger relief program each week (food bank or meal program). These organizations, referred to as partner programs, used the opportunity to raise awareness about their services and received all food donations from that market day. Northwest Harvest provided the tent, materials about hunger, and a constant presence for producers and donors at the market. Northwest Harvest also organized the activity for the market day.
Over the course of the 2012 season (May – September), participating partner programs received donations of 2,211lbs of produce as well as honey, pasture-raised meat, and plant starts through the Farmers Market donation booth. These donations were conservatively worth an estimated $3,540.
The market booth accepted three types of donations:
The purchasing portion of the donation booth was particularly important, since it increased goodwill with market vendors and organizers by increasing economic activity at the market. Our market program utilized a chalk board to advertise needed items to market attendees (see market setup below, bottom right corner). Our chalk board was an easy DIY project, made from a donated cabinet door and some chalkboard paint (available at most hardware stores). Participating meal programs enjoyed the flexibility that monetary donations and purchasing requests at the market gave them to buy high-quality, rarely-donated items like honey or meat. Participating food banks enjoyed the flexibility that monetary donations gave them to bargain with growers at the end of the market day to get the most produce possible for their clients.
This program was enormously successful with the vendors at the Yakima Farmers Market, especially for the vendors of leafy greens and root vegetables and for vendors of delicate berries (strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries). Vendors also donated tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, onions, squash, and bread. The amount of produce donated earlier in the season was more appropriate for a meal program (50-100lbs), whereas the food donated during the height of the growing season was more appropriate for a food bank and overwhelmed some of the meal programs we worked with (200-400lbs).
We found that having planned activities for volunteers to engage market attendees increased the satisfaction of volunteers and market attendees and increased goodwill from the vendors and market coordinator. Activities designed to engage youth were particularly successful. Activites from 2012: