Northwest Harvest Delivery

*This post is sort of a continuation of a post I wrote back in December called “How a Food Bank Works, and Why Donations are Important”. I wrote that post when we were having a community wide food drive. Today’s post focuses more on other sources of food that keep our food bank stocked.

Despite a late start day for the local schools on account of the 1/2″ of snow that covered the ground after last night’s storm, I was at work this morning unloading our biggest food delivery of the month. On the first Thursday of every month, we get a huge shipment of any and every kind of food, brought by an organization called Northwest Harvest whose mission and vision are to:

The mission of Northwest Harvest is to provide nutritious food to hungry people statewide in a manner that respects their dignity, while fighting to eliminate hunger. Our vision is ample nutritious food is available to everyone in Washington State.

Their delivery is the largest we get each month, and is always one of my favorite days. It’s an amazing experience to realize how much generosity and goodwill must exist in this state in order for an organization like this to exist for the purpose of feeding nutritious meals to hungry families in Washington State. Their existence allows us to do what we do in serving thousands of individuals every month. Because of them, we will not turn anyone away hungry. If you live in our school districts’ boundaries, you can get food from our food bank. Simple as that.

Northwest Harvest predictably bring staples like beans, rice, pasta, oats, canned tomatoes, and frozen meat each month, but there’s also some variety to what they bring. Two extra volunteers from the community come in for the sole purpose of unloading the truck and playing tetris in our little food bank as we try to pack in a major donation that is meant to last for the full month. On this day where the county was covered in its frozen ground, we unloaded the biggest load I’ve seen since I started here in August. We unloaded 11 pallets of food today weighing over 6,000 pounds. In the freezer, we wedged in frozen corn and carrots between ground turkey, and macaroni and cheese. Out on the floor we placed the usual suspects, along with a pallet of clementines, one of grapefruit, one of fresh tomatoes, and a usual assortment of onions and potatoes. The biggest, and most challenging, part of the day, however, was unloading a pallet of spinach, and one of portabella mushrooms into the fridge after our floor was so full that there was hardly room for us to walk through the labyrinth of five foot tall food pallets.

We ended up carting or carrying in boxes and boxes of spinach and mushrooms (which were, coincidentally grown and harvested near Monterey, CA, my parents’ favorite city in California.) This is the first time I’ve seen mushrooms in our food bank, and it might have been a first for the families that visit too, because I saw pair after pair of eyes light up today when they spied the boxes on their trip through the food bank. Since we received so  many mushrooms that our fridge is bursting with them, each family got to take an entire flat home. Same with the tomatoes, and pretty soon, the potatoes might get sent the same way. The smart families are the ones who come in for their visit on the first Thursday or Friday of the month, because there are always fun and exciting things waiting there. The produce goes bad almost faster than we can give it out, so we’re pushing it tomorrow before the weekend sets in. Lucky for myself and the other staff, we get free produce when times of plenty come in like that. Now my biggest cooking challenge for the next few days is trying to figure out how many ways I can cook portabella mushrooms before I get tired of them.