Central Washington is home to many large-scale farms and every event can result in a harvest between six and 40 apple bins, which can hold up to 1,100 pounds of produce each. Thus, transportation and storage is crucial when working with such donation volumes. Having transport and storage available enables CSML to accept semi-load donations from packing houses and producers to distribute to smaller food banks that are unable to handle an entire bin of produce, let alone a whole truck.
When a donation of 10,000 pounds of onions arrived to the CSML warehouse, the Harvest VISTA realized that while there was a full storage shed of onions available for donation, there was no way to transport them. This is where Harvest Against Hunger and their statewide connections came in to play. With a single phone call from Moses Lake, the recovery was set into motion. Within three days two trucks arrived to collect and move an additional 140,000 pounds of onions to Northwest Harvest and Second Harvest. This particular producer was overjoyed that the onions had been donated and had not gone to waste. Not only was the storage and transportation at CSML valuable in making this link, but also the statewide efforts of HAH to connect and collaborate.
Frequently, donations will be larger as stated above, then as word spreads you will begin to get phone calls from home owners with a single tree to harvest. Collaborating with the Senior Center Gleaners ensured that even the smallest amount of produce was harvested and didn’t go to waste.
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 five counties in Central Washington. These counties include the three 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 that number went up in 2015 with over 99,675 pounds of produce collected and distributed. Overall, CSML has collected approximately 757,155 pounds of fresh produce from farmers in the area.