New “Good Food Bags” Program is off to a Good Start!

On Wednesday PSFN helped organize something we’ve never done before: an aggregated buying model serving the families of our Farm to Table (F2T) child care centers! This event is yet another spin-off of our Farm to Table project, a public health project in partnership with Seattle’ Human Services Division. So far under F2T we’ve put together a wholesale institutional model where child care centers can purchase large quantities of fresh, organic produce from area farms, and a CSA model where smaller, home-based child care operations can have a reasonably sized CSA box delivered right to their door.  The Refugee and Immigrant Family Center (RIFC), an Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) preschool under the City of Seattle’s Youth and Family Empowerment (YFE) Program has been a participating site in our Farm to Table project since Spring 2011, and yesterday became an integral part of our latest model, customized to fit the needs of the community.

Wednesday’s event at RIFC kicked off a new and unique outreach model for the Farm to Table Project: providing families of RIFC children with take-home “Good Food Bags” (local, seasonal selections of organic produce). This is a spin off of Toronto’s Good Food Box program. The idea is that the site purchases large quantities of seasonal produce at a wholesale price, then when families come to pick up their children they can pack a bag of fresh, affordable produce to take home.

Elidia Sangerman, Director of RIFC, kicked off the event by explaining the purpose of the event: making healthy food directly from the farm available to families, all while saving money on seasonal produce. The proposal (if the families like it) is to have local produce available mid-day between child pick up and drop off times for two RIFC site programs. Families will bring their bags, choose their produce, and take home $5-7 of fresh, healthy food.   Natalie Thomson, project manager of YFE’s involvement with Farm to Table, then spoke about the history of RIFC purchasing local food for its children through F2T for the past 9 months, and about their desire to extend the reach of this healthy food by connecting it to parents and siblings as well as RIFC’s young students.

Bill Brown, Sales Manager at Full Circle and our go-to ‘celebrity’ farmer for the F2T project, talked to families about local farming, seasonal produce and it’s high nutritional value, as well as Full Circle’s goal to get healthy produce to children and families. Full Circle has been a wonderful partner on the Farm to Table project, and provided all the produce for the event.

Everyone who attended helped prepare a community dinner under the direction of Leika Suzumura (Leika works with Community Kitchens Northwest and PCC). Cutting, slicing, chopping, cooking, and baking – everyone took a turn! A

menu of tortilla soup, mixed chard salad, parsnip mashed potatoes, and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were enjoyed by all! Clean up was a group event as well, accompanied by lots of shared stories and laughter.

Today, the feedback from parents and families was unanimous: they would love to participate in a more permanent “Good Food Bag” program. We are off to a good beginning…. who knows where this good food, good will, and good energy will take us!

For more photos of Wednesday’s event, check out our Facebook page.

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