Submitted by Sustainable Connections

Thanks to WSDA Food Assistance Program support channeled through Bellingham Food Bank, Farmers Market vendors and the Bellingham Farmers Market itself will see up to $35,000 in new income for their contributions to local hunger relief programs.

“Tip the Scale for Hunger Relief” is a partnership between Bellingham Food Bank, Sustainable Connections, and Bellingham Farmers Market. At the market closing bell, vendors will crate up product they traditionally have donated to hunger relief programs through the Small Potatoes Gleaning Project. Thanks to this one-time WSDA grant, the farmers market itself can now buy unsold product at a wholesale rate, thus balancing out disruption to weekly sales caused by Covid-19. Sustainable Connections staff and volunteers will transport collected produce and distribute toNorthwest Youth Service’s 22 North, Catholic Community Service’s Francis Place, HomesNOW! Unity Village, Lighthouse Mission Ministries, Birchwood Food Desert Fighters, Lummi Nation, and Sea Mar Community Health Center’s Food Farmacia. Bellingham Farmers Market will invoice Bellingham Food Bank and issue payment to participating vendors every week.

This innovative collaboration comes in response to challenges faced by growers near and far that have been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Max Morange, Emerging Projects Coordinator at Bellingham Food Bank, “the food bank recognizes that our region’s farms and market infrastructure are critical to our regional food system. We hope that this funding will lend confidence to growers whose livelihoods depend on direct-to-consumer sales and who may be wary of bringing perishable product to a market if they don’t know it will sell. In turn, thanks to Sustainable Connections, food-insecure households get access to amazing produce delivered directly from the market.”

“We are always happy to support our local community, and the extra funding from this new program will help us make it through a tough market season,” shares Lora Liegel, Director of the Bellingham Farmers Market.

To support local growers, shop Bellingham Farmers Market Saturdays 10am-2pm or visit individual vendor pages using the directory at bellinghamfarmers.org.

Bellingham Food Bank has been feeding our community since 1972. Currently, 1 in 5 Bellingham households uses the food bank on a regular basis, and every month, the food bank responds to more than 18,000 visits. For more information and to donate visit bellinghamfoodbank.org.

Sustainable Connections, a nonprofit organization in Bellingham, WA, creates thriving communities through innovative ideas, collaboration, and action. The Food Recovery Program reduces food insecurity and addresses climate change by recovering and redistributing nutritious surplus food to neighbors in need. Visit sustainableconnections.org for more information.

Bellingham Farmers Market has been supporting local sustainable agriculture since 1992, by connecting the public with local farmers, producers, and artisans in an economically viable marketplace

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