Do you have fruit and nut trees in your yard that produce more than you, your family, and neighbors can eat in one season? Do you have an annual home garden with plenty of fresh food to share with others?
If you answer yes to either or both of these questions, you can help to alleviate hunger and promote nutritious foods locally by participating in the Rainbow Valley Gleaners Harvest Project, which aims to address food insecurity in Klickitat County.
In November 2008, the US Department of Agriculture released a report on food security in the United States between 2005 and 2007. Among the 50 states, Washington ranked 32nd for food insecurity; 10.1 percent of the state population qualified as "food insecure," a term used to describe households so financially stretched they cannot be certain all household members will not go hungry.
Rural counties in Washington, particularly those counties dependant on resource-based industries, have significantly higher rates of food insecurity. Klickitat County has one of the highest rates of food insecurity of all counties in the state of Washington.
The Gleaning Program of the Washington Gorge Action Programs (WGAP), in partnership with the Healthy People Alliance of Klickitat County and the Klickitat County Health Department, has organized the Rainbow Valley Gleaners Harvest Project in an effort to prevent waste of foods and address food insecurity by creating a cost-free way for low and moderate-income people to obtain healthy food.
The Harvest Project connects harvest volunteers (gleaners) with community members in Klickitat County who have extra fruit, nut, and garden produce they would like harvested and donated to local food banks.
Goals of the Harvest Project include compiling a community tree and garden registry, identifying and bringing together harvest volunteers, providing tree care and food preservation education, and donating harvested produce to local food banks.
Community members throughout Klickitat County can add their fruit and nut trees and home gardens to the Harvest Project Registry, which include several harvest options: harvest parties (volunteers harvest on a pre-arranged date), open harvest (volunteers are welcome to harvest any day), or no harvest (tree/garden is registered but not harvested).
Registration forms are available for download at www.klickitatcounty.org/health under the Harvest Project link and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forms can also be picked up at the WGAP office in Bingen, or the Klickitat County Health Department offices in White Salmon and Goldendale. Registration information is completely private.
The Harvest Project is seeking volunteers who are interested in helping out with the project, harvesting, and delivering produce to local food banks, among other activities.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering or has questions about the Harvest Project can contact the Klickitat County Health Department at 493-6234.