On March 2, PSFN and NABC were honored by a visit from U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan. Merrigan was on her way to Portland State University to speak to students and local leaders about farmer-consumer connections and decided to drop by Seattle to pay a special visit to PSFN/NABC projects.
Deputy Secretary Merrigan chose to visit Central Area Senior Center to check out and show her support for the growing Farm to Table (F2T) project PSFN is involved with. 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 Farm to Table project, which connects fresh local produce to typically underserved communities such as lower income senior meal programs and child care centers, is part of the larger CDC-funded Seattle and King County public health effort: “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” (CPPW). (See the CPPW F2T Update in this newsletter).
The morning of Merrigan’s visit, Kia Armstrong of F2T Producer Partner and PSFN Member, Nash’s Organic Produce, personally delivered cabbage, parsnips, and triticale flour to Senior Services’ Chef and Nutrition Site Coordinator, Anthony Herts. This was the first F2T produce delivery to Central Area Senior Center, and the first F2T delivery to a Senior Services-managed site! Chef Herts then prepared a delectable meal for regular Central Area Senior Center diners and special guests. (See an interview with Kia in this newsletter).
At the meal site, NABC was also honored 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.
After a delicious lunch, Deputy Secretary Merrigan and her staff joined PSFN/NABC-affiliated local producers and NABC staff at Central Market in Shoreline. Producers had an opportunity to introduce Ms. Merrigan to their products featured at Central Market as they toured the store together. Merrigan spoke to each producer individually and sampled their high-quality products. Merrigan and local producers then set up camp in the abundant produce department at Central Market, where she candidly fielded questions from producers.
What a day! NABC was extraordinarily honored by Deputy Secretary Merrigan’s visit and level of engagement with producers. Thanks to all the PSFN/NABC-affiliated producers and partners who made the trip to Seattle for this momentous day!
For a full photo album of Deputy Secretary Merrigan’s visit, see PSFN’s Facebook Page.