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Redistributing Opportunity

A message from Chief Executive Officer Thomas Reynolds

Have you stopped to consider how fortunate the residents of Washington are to live in such an agriculturally abundant state? Summer bursts onto the scene with a slew of parading harvests from May to October. If only every month of the year was like August, with literally dozens of Washington crops ready to be pulled, picked, or cut and prepared for an evening meal, fresh as can be.

Northwest Harvest trucks run from dawn to dark in the summer, collecting fruits and vegetables from growers across the state who call us and offer what is left over after their market orders are filled. We immediately distribute the produce to food banks to ensure the best of Washington is available to people who struggle with hunger. This work matters tremendously, as everything else in life is infinitely more difficult if you are hungry.

Anne Frank wrote, “Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

I find it deeply troubling that one in eight residents in Washington don’t have enough to eat. That must change. It’s truly outrageous. By distributing healthy food, we are alleviating hunger today, but what about working on reducing the number of people who experience hunger going forward?

There are predictable gaps in a low-income household’s ability to pay for groceries. When moms and dads work low-wage jobs, money runs out to pay for food before the next paycheck comes. This is especially true in this era of expensive housing, healthcare, and transportation. School breaks and even weekends are times when the anxiety of not having enough to put on the table becomes very real.

At Northwest Harvest, we see this obscenity of hunger as a symptom of a society that is crippled by an inequitable distribution of opportunity. We’d like to see a resetting of the ways things are so that Washington can move from a dependency model, in which low-income people must rely on the generosity of strangers, to a more vibrant and equal society in which affordable access to nutritious food is a reality for all people.

I can imagine a time when there are 10,000 “backyard farmers” who are contributing tomatoes or carrots or pears to their local food banks; where Washington voters expect that their candidates make clear their intent around food policy; where corner stores and gas stations offer affordable fresh fruits and vegetables to their customers because it’s good for business and good for their community.

We can start in small ways to improve the world right away, and we will all be better off for it in the long run.

Thank you for what you do as a supporter of Northwest Harvest. We count on you and are committed to making the greatest impact on our communities with the resources you entrust to us.