Food

Help grow fresh food for the hungry!

Some very generous supporters of the BMAC Food Bank have offered the use of their garden space on Cottonwood Rd. for the 2016 spring through fall. We are in search of a group or individual to "adopt" this garden space to grow nutritious food for distribution to those in need through the BMAC Food Bank.

This project would be ideal for a club, family, business, or other group committed to serving those in need in the Walla Walla community through ongoing community service.

Volunteer "adoptive parents" of this garden space would work together with BMAC Food Bank, Public Outreach staff, and volunteers to plan, prepare, plant, care for, harvest, and clean up the garden space for the 2016 garden season. BMAC will be there to support this project throughout the year with supplies, outreach, and limited financial support.
cottonwoodgarden

BACKGROUND:

The BMAC food bank collects food in a large warehouse and works closely with 4 local food pantries (The Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul, The Pantry Shelf and Helpline), as well as some in Waitsburg, Dayton, Pomeroy, and Clarkston. These pantries don’t have room to store a large supply of food, so we store food on the warehouse shelves and in large walk-in fridges and freezers to help keep them fully stocked. Every week, we deliver food to these pantries, where people who are food-insecure can go pick up food. We work to keep these food pantries stocked with a variety of food so people in need have access to a nutritious diet.

The hardest part in doing this is making sure that we are giving the pantries enough whole foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, and dairy, and not just packaged foods. It makes a huge difference in people’s nutrition when they have access to fresh whole foods.

Over the last 4 years, we have had different volunteer groups help us grow gardens specifically for these food pantries. In 2014, they started a garden in a donated space with the help of some volunteers. They grew over 1,000 pounds of tomatoes, squash, lettuce, peppers, tomatillos, pumpkins, and cucumbers, and just a few melons.

If your group is interested in this project, we could work together to build a similar garden. BMAC can provide some of the supplies, such as seeds, indoor planting containers to start seeds in, shovels and rakes. We may also be able to access irrigation supplies to create an efficient watering method.

We can also help by offering advice on how to make a volunteer-run garden work based on our experience. Some of that advice is below in the form of a “Food Bank Garden Outline,” and we can continue to offer advice and other resources as the summer progresses.

Finally, we have a partnership with a Whitman College group called the Whitman Glean Team, who could help out during harvest time to collect the produce and deliver it to the food bank.

The results of this project, if you are able to take it on, would be that food insecure people in our community—that is, people who may not know from one day to the next whether they will be able to afford to feed their family—can rely on a steady flow of nutritious, fresh, local fruits and vegetables to ensure their families are well-fed. Their access to the produce from your garden will help make sure that children are growing properly and able to focus better in school, and that children and adults both have a chance to be healthy and avoid health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health concerns that have been connected to eating highly processed foods instead of fresh whole ingredients.

Food Bank Garden Outline:

1. Meet with Food Bank Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Food Bank Director, to discuss particulars of this project and make sure we are all on the same page regarding expectations of each other throughout this project.

2. Determine what to grow:

-Go to http://extension.wsu.edu/wallawalla/wp-content/uploads/sites/26/2013/07/INW-Vegetable-Gardening.pdf for tips on what vegetables grow well in this area, what soil type they need, how to maximize your garden space, and what time of year they need to be planted and harvested.

-Consider the time-frame – many vegetables will grow well into the fall, as late as November, so choose vegetables that fit within your timeline.

-We have many seeds available, and have had a lot of luck in getting seeds donated from the Master Gardeners and seed suppliers.

3. Determine how you want to start (from seed, indoors, from starts)

-If you choose start the seeds now indoors (we have egg cartons as well as indoor planting trays to help you get started) or sow directly in the soil. Some vegetables do very well to be started in late winter/early spring and then be transplanted, while others do not do well when transplanted.

-If you choose to start the seeds outdoors, be sure to take into consideration how long seeds take to reach full maturity and whether our growing season is long enough, as well as when you will need to sow the seeds.

-If you choose to use starts grown from someone else, start looking now for a donor to offer these starts to you for free or at a discount.

4. Prepare your garden plot.

- There are many ways to prepare a garden for planting. You may need to till, add nutrient-rich compost or fertilizer, and/or put down straw or another type of mulch to slow weed growth. If you need help getting access to these supplies and/or finding someone to help till, give us a call!

-Determine the layout of your garden to maximize space. Consider “companion plants” that help each other grow well, such as basil with tomatoes, marigolds to control pest problems, and other combinations that grow well when planted together.

5. Schedule volunteers

-You will need a lot of volunteers at the beginning to help prepare the plot and plant.

-You will need a steady schedule of volunteers to keep up with watering and weeding the garden throughout the summer. I found the easiest way to manage this was to assign each day of the week to one person, and count on them to always go water on that day of the week.

-If weeds become an issue, consider throwing a “garden party” to get a large number of volunteers out at once to tackle weeds.

-Be sure to have a sign-in sheet for volunteers to log the time they spend in the garden, note what they did and leave any notes for the other volunteers to see.

6. Utilize resources!

-WWU Extension Master Gardeners are a valuable resource. They are experienced gardeners and they are required to do community service.

-This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., BMAC Food Bank Director: 509-529-3561

-Whitman Glean Team – these guys are here to help people with harvesting. Email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call them at 509-416-6622


An integral part of BMAC's work is supplying food for those in need. Food from multiple community food drives, gleaning projects, grocery rescue, Second Harvest, and the USDA is stored in the BMAC Food Bank warehouse and distributed through local pantries, the Senior Food Program (CSFP), the Weekend Backpack Program, and other programs.

The BMAC Food Bank is a part of the Second Harvest Hunger Relief Network. To learn more about the network and BMAC's role in it, click here.

*Updated Food Bank Brochure coming soon.

 


Contact Us

Hours:
Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM until 2:00 PM for donations.

Contact Us:
Phone - (509) 529-3561; Fax - (509) 526-5174; E-mail - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Directions to Food Bank


Food Distribution

BMAC collects and stores food, then distributes it to Walla Walla’s four emergency food pantries.
People in need of food assistance can obtain an Emergency Food Voucher at Helpline. The following local food pantries accept this voucher within the City of Walla Walla:

    • The Pantry Shelf - 325 S. 1st Ave. - M/W/F, call for hours - (509) 526-4169

    • St. Vincent de Paul - 308 W. Main St. - M/W/F, 9:30-11:45 am - (509) 525-3903

    • The Salvation Army - 827 W. Alder St. - T/Th, 10:00 am - 12:00 noon - (509) 529-9470

BMAC also distributes food to Walla Walla, Columbia, Garfield, and Asotin counties:
    • Waitsburg Resource Center - 106 Preston Avenue, Waitsburg - Sat, 9:00-11:00 a.m. and Thurs, 2:00-4:00 p.m. - 509-337-6589 or 509-629-2988

    • Community Food Bank of Dayton - 111 S. First Street, Dayton - call for hours: - (509) 382-2322 or (509) 382-2137

    • Garfield County Food Bank - 865 W Main St, Pomeroy - call for hours: - (509) 843-3563

    • Asotin Food Bank - 1546 Maple Street, Clarkston - M-F 10:00 am - 3:00 pm - (509) 758-7085


BMAC Food Bank


Senior Food Program

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) food distribution is held monthly at the BMAC Food Bank. The program is for seniors over 60 years old. Applications for CSFP are available at the main office or the Food Warehouse. The CSFP Food Distribution occurs on the 3rd Thursday of each month. The dates for 2018 are:

January          18Senior Food Box
February        15
March            15
April               19
May               17
June               21
July                19
August           16
September      20
October          18
November       15
December       20


For more information about this federally-supplied program, visit the USDA website.

BMAC Food Bank

Washington State Basic Food Program (Food Stamps)

In keeping with our emphasis on building healthy families through proper diet, BMAC now is the local contact agency for Washington State Basic Food Program (former food stamps).

We have dedicated staff who strive to make the enrollment process as hassle free as possible. There is online registration as well as over the telephone. Our goal is to reach as many people in the Walla Walla Valley who are eligible. This federally funded food program not only helps with food budgets but it also brings needed dollars into our communities.

For more information, call our office at 529-4980 and ask to speak to someone about the Basic Food Program.

Follow these links for Basic Food Information and the Basic Food Eligibility Calculator.


Weekend Backpack Program

BackpackBridgeWeDidIt

Currently, one third of the population we serve is under the age of 18. Children who face very low food security are more likely to report 4 or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) leading to lifelong struggles with emotional, physical and spiritual health. Reports of physical and emotional abuse are shown to be significantly associated with very low food security. These children have lower test scores and poorer comprehension of basic reading and math skills. They are often labeled as 'troubled' as they frequently are plagued by lack of attention, outbursts, and hyperactivity. They have stunted growth, higher rates of acute and chronic illnesses, much higher rates of obesity and type-2 diabetes, as well as cavities and weak enamel. They miss more school than their more food- secure  counterparts and are more often required to enroll in summer school or to repeat a grade. Further reading about the psychology of food insecure children can be found at the following links:

Link Between Childhood Adversity and Food Insecurity
Psychological Effects of Hunger on Children

For each of the past three years, we have built and distributed 300 to 360 bags of food to students right before both winter and spring breaks. During the school week, these students receive free or reduced cost meals from the school, but go hungry during those extended breaks from the school meal program. To enhance the effectiveness of our child hunger initiative BMAC expanded the goal to also provide Friday food packs to students every weekend during the spring of 2017. During the spring of 2017 we provided 18% (91 backpacks) of the goal for the 2017-2018 school year. 

Each backpack includes 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and two snacks.

For the 2017-2018 school year, it was our intent to expand the distribution of the Friday Backpack program from five elementary schools to all twelve elementary schools in Walla Walla County, to provide weekend nutrition for 20% (492 backpacks) of the kids eligible for free and reduced cost meals at those schools. Through a year long grassroots campaign, we reached our goal in January 2018!

Additional donations will go toward increasing nutrition and providing extra meals during long weekends, like President's Day.

You can help us feed the children of Walla Walla County by supporting the Backpack Bridge program here:

donate now

Or, volunteer to transport food bags to a Walla Walla Valley elementary school. Contact Jeff Mathias at 509-529-3561 for more information.

BMAC Food Bank


Farm to Food Pantry

FarmtoPantry

Getting fresh produce into the emergency food system is an increasingly important part of hunger-relief efforts in communities across Washington. BMAC is partnered with Rotary First Harvest and the Washington Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in a collaborative effort to bring local produce to those in need through "Farm to Food Pantry." This program allows BMAC to purchase fresh produce directly from local small farms, including Frog Hollow Farm, Hayshaker Farm, R&R Produce, and Welcome Table Farm. In the first year, these contracted farms supplied BMAC with cherries, apricots, peaches, lettuce, chard, radish, beans, mixed veggies, garlic, corn, potatoes, cabbage, beets, carrots, rutabaga, zucchini, cucumber, and more. These foods were distributed through BMAC's food pantry network to people in need in our communities.

According to Rotary First Harvest, "purchasing directly from a local farmer will increase the availability of local crops while improving access to healthier food choices for families and individuals in need.  Buying produce directly from the farmers also dramatically strengthens the bond between farmer and food bank.  Our experience has shown that if a farmer has a strong relationship with a local food bank they are significantly more inclined to make additional produce donations."

For more information on the Farm to Food Pantry state-wide program, visit the WSDA website.

The Farm to Food Pantry program grant requires a community matching funds.  If you are interested in contributing to increasing the amount of fresh nutritious food distributed to pantry clients and supporting local farms please make a donation today.

The BMAC Food Bank accepts fresh garden produce throughout the growing season from 8am to 2pm MondayFriday.

We are very grateful to the Whitman Glean Team for their assistance in harvesting produce for the food bank. Contact the Glean Team if you need assistance harvesting your donation: the glean team consists of volunteers trained to harvest your donation with respect to your property and wishes. You can reach the Glean Team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 509-416-6622 to request a group of volunteers to glean your crop.

How to Help

You can help to ensure that your neighbors have access to nutritious food:
  • Donate food items to 921 West Cherry St. Walla Walla, next to Washington Park.
    The following is a list of commonly-donated food:

Canned food, sealed and with labels
Boxed foods, unopened
Fresh produce
Dairy products
Frozen meat
Juice and other beverages
Kitchen staples
Pet food

  • Donate fresh produce through the Whitman Glean Team. Volunteers will harvest your excess fruits and vegetables for donation to the food bank. Contact the Glean Team through their voicemail service at 509-416-6622 or email the Whitman Glean Team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Organize a Food Drive. Call 509-529-4980 or email Jeff Mathias at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to coordinate with the Food Bank about special needs, collection barrels, banners and pick-up.
  • Sponsor weekend meals for food-insecure elementary school students in Walla Walla. Call for more information: 509-529-3561

Hours

Mon-Thurs: 
8:30am to 5:00pm
Fridays:
8:30am to 4:00pm
CLOSED daily from
12:00pm to 1:00pm




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