In late April, the city of Woodinville's Human Services taskforce offered the nonprofit Farms For Life (FFL) a $10,000 COVID-19 relief grant to create a joint project to donate and deliver produce to agencies who serve people experiencing food insecurity it purchased from area farmers.
The awarding of the grant funds hinged on the city's request for FFL to work with a group called FareStart that would cook meals and deliver them to kids at the Northshore YMCA.
But before the first dispersion of funds were released, FareStart backed out of the arrangement, which threw up a red flag to city officials who had to consider rescinding the grant similar to the action it took against Sammamish Valley Alliance in late August.
"Initially, FareStart agreed to these terms, but then proceeded to delay the project based on operational changes and challenges on their end at their Seattle facility," FFL President Marie Shumada said. "This past month (August), FareStart sent a communication to FFL informing us they would be exiting the agreement entirely."
Upon hearing the news, Shumada informed the city FareStart would no longer be participating in the program.
"The city explained that they would need to hold a meeting to determine the next steps (which included rescinding the grant)," Shumada said. "Simultaneous while waiting to hear back from the city, we researched a new project that would still include cooked meals feeding Woodinville residents."
FFL’s then reached out to a group called Sound Generation that agreed to provide the cooked meals for the Northshore Senior Center.
"Sound Generation employs a chef to work at the kitchen of the senior center," Shumada said. "By partnering with them, the city of Woodinville funded produce would be delivered to the chef, who prepares approximately 300 meals per week for the senior program."
When the city got word of the agreement with Sound Generation, it gave FFL the thumbs up to proceed.
"Farms For Life has found a new partner to allow them to deliver essentially the same program that was approved by the council,” City Finance Director Blaine Fritts said. “Though the recipients of the prepared meals vary from the original proposal (Northshore Senior Center and Camp Unity versus Northshore YMCA), the taskforce believes with the new partner and updated plan, Farms For Life is now in compliance with their agreement and its intent to use locally procured produce and turn it into meals for local citizens in need.”
The three Woodinville farms FFL purchases produce from are Gaining Ground, Songbird Haven, and Regeneration Farm.
"Due to the high produce demands, we also added a fourth farm to the mix; Alki Garden Farm," Shumada said. "All four of these farms are a part of Viva Farms King County. FFL is thrilled that the majority of our project involves Woodinville farms delivering Woodinville-grown produce to a program feeding Woodinville residents."
FFL began providing the meals for the senior center on Aug. 10.
"After the first week of produce deliveries, the senior center reached out to FFL to let us know that they also run a food pantry program," Shumada said. "But because food bank activities fall outside of the scope of the city of Woodinville grant, FFL's board decided to launch a fund to purchase produce for the senior center food pantry too."
Brooke Knight, Northshore Senior Center CEO, appreciates the new partnership with Farms For Life.
"Having regular donations of fresh produce to supplement our mostly shelf-stable food is such a gift for us," Knight said. "While we’re expanding our cold storage as we speak, we currently have very little space to store this type of food so it has been wonderful to be receiving it regularly as we can use it. Our members and guests have been so grateful to receive high quality and nutritious food."