Yakima food banks stocking up for winter

Operation Harvest collects 90,000 pounds of nonperishable food items
Yakima Rotary Operation Harvest

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — As temperatures drop and the growing season comes to an end, Yakima County food banks are stocking up on essential nonperishable food items to help families in need get through late fall and winter.

“We are still seeing the effects of the pandemic,” said Quinn Dalan, chairperson for Operation Harvest. “We’re still seeing the need that communities have families and children to get this food.”

Yakima Rotary volunteers collected at least 90,000 pounds of food over the weekend from community members in Yakima, Selah, Moxee, Gleed and Union Gap as part of the annual Operation Harvest food drive.

“Nobody should be hungry; no child should be hungry,” Dalan said. “This just is a great way to meet those needs.”

The food will be distributed to eight local food banks, including:

Anyone who missed the chance to donate over the weekend can drop off donations of nonperishable food items at the Yakima Rotary office at 1704 W. Nob Hill Blvd. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and can text 509-771-1321 for more information.

Local food banks receive fresh produce from area farms through an inititiative by the Washington State Department of Agrigulctire. WSDA officials said while it becomes more difficult to obtain locally sourced fruits and vegetables in the late fall and winter, they are still able to obtain fresh produce through the Fresh Produce Box Pilot Program, which is new this year.

Washington state residents continue to experience elevated levels of food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but research shows the problem is particularly significant in Yakima County.

According to research from the University of Washington and Washington State University, about 38% of households in Yakima County relied on food assistance prior to the pandemic. That number has now increased, with 48% of households relying on some type of food assistance program.

The research also showed Yakima County ranking among the top 10 counties in the state with the lowest food security — about 17% of households reported having very low food security and 13% reported having low food security.

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