The end of March was PSFN’s first F2T deliverables deadline. The F2T Team had been fretting about how F2T purchases would be affected by the dearth of local produce available this time of year. We joked with meal partners that we were on “the Irish diet” with only potatoes and turnips gracing the pages of our “F2T Local Produce NOW!” fresh sheet. But we forgot that mid-March is a great time to be on the Irish diet, and we were ecstatic to arrange many potato purchases and deliveries this month! We’re pleased to announce that PSFN has, so far, coordinated twelve fresh produce deliveries to nine separate meal sites, far exceeding its goals of three deliveries to three separate sites by March 30th. We have now connected local produce to our first childcare site and to all three designated senior feeding programs: Catholic Community Services; Senior Services; and Chicken Soup Brigade who – despite kitchen staff shake ups – is so far the front runner for local F2T purchases!
Impressed by F2T’s success, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan, honored PSFN and NABC, with a visit to a F2T meal site in early March (see article in this newsletter on Merrigan’s visit). One of Merrigan’s many roles at the USDA is leading the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food effort, an initiative with which F2T aligns well. The project was further honored that day by the presence of Seattle Mayor, Mike McGinn. Mayor McGinn and Deputy Secretary Merrigan (former classmates at Williams College) both spoke on the importance of local food connections and praised PSFN’s work on the Farm to Table project as well as the work NABC does to strengthen the regional food economy. McGinn and Merrigan recognized the dual nature of the project, which helps small and mid-size farms find untapped institutional market opportunities, while also helping to provide the freshest, healthiest produce for those most in need in King County.
Most recently, F2T kicked off its child care pilot! While the original plan was to implement the F2T Project in senior centers and then aid in a WSDA-led feasibility study for child care, because of early success in senior centers as well as palpable enthusiasm from the early learning and school-age community, we officially kicked off child care pilot project March 23! The pilot, headed by the City of Seattle’s Early Learning and Family Support (ELFS) Division, will include eight ELFS-affiliated child care centers. Each center is required to make four local food purchases between now and October 2011. Fifteen child care providers attended the kickoff meeting, and – excited by the idea of integrating fresh, nutritious produce into their menus – every single one signed a letter of commitment to the F2T Project! PSFN also spoke at two meetings for the Coalition for Safety and Health in Early Learning (CSHEL). These were meetings of educational trainers for child care givers. PSFN spoke about opportunities in local food for both school aged and younger children, and the trainers will take this message back to their staff and trainees. This means we might have even more F2T child care sites (through CSHEL) on board soon! As the child care model develops, we will also include child care sites operated though the King County housing Authority (KCHA) and others.
As F2T continues to develop, PSFN hopes to be able to expand the project to include more traditionally underserved communities. With additional funding, PSFN may be able to extend the F2T Project’s reach to urban community centers; health clinics; and local Indian Tribes. To this effect, the F2T Team has been meeting with Seattle Parks and Recreation about opportunities at summer Parks and Rec events as well as through various Parks and Recreation-operated food-based community programs. We have been lucky enough to already connect with Wendy Burdette, Senior Program Manager of Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. Wendy has already made a F2T produce order, and has begun dedicating resources to training chefs to work with the fresh, whole foods the F2T project makes available. We’re so excited to be able to spread our wings and extend our reach to work with so many additional community partners!
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