CSML also collaborated with the local senior center, because they had a volunteer collecting produce at the same market. The farmer’s market manager granted CSML permission to collect produce, and the senior center provided additional cooperation and consent. After some negotiation, the senior center agreed to allow CSML to glean produce from the farmer’s market. It is important to ask for permission and even collaborate with the farmers market and other organizations receiving excess produce from vendors. This helps to ensure every participating organization is receiving an equal share of the produce available. It also establishes trust and cooperation between organizations so that everyone can accomplish their individual missions without issues. The VISTA established dates for produce recovery and sent them to the farmers market manager.
The VISTA also attempted to recruit two to three volunteers to help every weekend because of the size of the market and the amount available to collect. Recruitment was done through email and Facebook. If no volunteers showed up it was still possible to glean the farmers market with one person. If you plan to arrange a weekly volunteer event, consider recruiting volunteers prior to the start of the farmers market season. Advertise it on a regular basis, and inform volunteers of the opportunity to come out and glean.
When volunteers participate in a market recovery project, plan to train them about 30 minutes before the actual market recovery. Volunteers met at CSML and the VISTA trained them there. Some tips for approaching vendors:
Many vendors were very receptive to the request and were happy to donate their excess produce. As a result, out of 8 events, an average of 243 pounds of produce per farmers market was donated to the food bank since August 2015.
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.