WSU Extension of Grant/Adams counties approached CSML to determine interest to start a pilot project to recover demonstration produce from the Grant County Fair. The county fair displays an assortment of arts, crafts, and produce for competition. WSU Extension ran the agricultural demonstration building during the fair in the third week of August of 2015 and found that a lot of the produce was unclaimed by their owners. As a result, the produce usually does not get used and has to be disposed of. The purpose of the pilot project was to determine if the quantity and quality of the produce was sufficient to give away to CSML.
WSU Extension arranged for CSML to collect the unclaimed produce the day after the last day of the Grant County Fair. The VISTA supplied enough collapsible crates for the fresh produce available. The VISTA had to be selective about what produce would be collected because some of the produce began to rot or be consumed by flies. Nevertheless, the VISTA was able to collect over 300 pounds of fresh produce from the agricultural demonstration building. The pilot project showed that CSML and other organizations that they could benefit from collecting fresh produce from their respective county fairs. Collaboration with individuals running the agricultural demonstration is essential to determine how to coordinate the event and whether it is a viable project to continue.
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.