Central Washington is home to many large-scale farms and each event resulted in a harvest between 6 and 40 apple bins, which can store up to 1,100 pounds of produce each. Subsequently, transportation and storage is crucial when working with such donation volumes. Having transport and storage available gave CSML the opportunity to accept semi-load donations from packing houses and producers and then distribute to the smaller food banks that are unable to handle an entire bin of produce, let alone a whole truck.
When a donation of 10,000 lbs. of onions arrived to the CSML warehouse it came to the VISTA’s attention that there was a full storage shed of onions available for donation, but no way to transport. This is where Rotary First Harvest and their connections statewide came in to play, with a single phone call from Moses Lake the recovery was set into motion. Within 3 days 2 trucks arrived to gather and move an additional 140,000 lbs of onions to Northwest Harvest and 2nd Harvest. This particular producer was overjoyed that the onions had been donated and had not gone to waste. Not only was the storage and transportation at CSML valuable in making this link, but also the statewide efforts of RFH to connect and collaborate.
Frequently, donations will be larger as stated above, then as word spreads you will begin to get phone calls from home owners that have a single tree to harvest. Harvesting with the Senior Center Gleaners ensured that even the smallest amount of produce was harvested and didn’t go to waste.
Community Services of Moses Lake (CSML) strives to empower the community so that “Friends help friends feed the hungry.” CSML houses the Moses Lake Food Bank and is the distribution hub for 33 partner food banks in 5 counties in Central Washington. These counties include the 3 largest agricultural producers in Washington; Yakima, Benton and Grant counties. In 2012 CSML distributed approximately 120,000 pounds of fresh produce. With the presence of the Harvest Against Hunger VISTA in 2013, that number increased to well over 300,000 lbs. of produce. In 2014, only 68,750 pounds of produce were donated, but in 2015, over 99,675 pounds of produce was collected and distributed. Overall, CSML has collected approximately 757,155 pounds of fresh produce from farmers in the area.