At the Seattle Community Farm, Tuesdays are harvesting days. That is when the beets come up and the raspberries fall down, when the crates for delivery stack up for washing and weighing before its final destination: the food bank. And that’s where we are headed today, to see how many mouths we can feed with the produce nurtured with community hands.
It is 8 in the morning. At the Rainier Valley Food Bank, a crowd of people already wait at the front door, many with large bags and containers. The food bank doors are shut but within there is a rush of activity. Crates are unloaded and stacked in a pick-up line system, the garage is prepped for quick restocking, and volunteers are standing at each station, ready to distribute the food: a package of chicken, a few vegetables, some canned goods. The hungry are many, and the resources always go quickly.
Looking into the storage garage, where the shelves are fully stocked for the week, you realize the meaning of “group effort.” Those ten crates over there are from Lettuce Link’s Seattle Community Farm, those other ten at the entrance are from local P-Patch Giving Gardens and Seattle Tilth’s Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, and those being unloaded just now are from local grocery stores, as well as Northwest Harvest, and Food Lifeline. In the other corner being unboxed are packages of gnocchi, instant mashed potatoes, mushroom quinoa, and various snack products.
In that one food bank on that one day, there must have been over a dozen separate nonprofits, stores, and organizations that contributed to the food distributed that morning. But is it enough? The shelves are empty at the end of the day, yet familiar faces come back every week, and we ask ourselves just how many mouths can we feed?