Back in the fall, the Washington state Department of Agriculture announced a new grant program to help expand hunger relief efforts statewide. The Department opened those grants up to all eligible hunger relief organizations serving Washington communities whether or not they were previously contract with WSDA to distribute food assistance.
Recently, WSDA notified 91 organizations statewide they would be receiving funds, totally $4.1 million. WSDA distributes millions of dollars annually through its Food Assistance programs. The program works by contracting with hunger relief organizations, Tribes, and tribal organizations in all 39 counties to deliver government-funded food assistance resources across the state. These include both state funds and federal funds as well as commodities from the USDA.
The Food Assistance Flexible Funding grants program is funded through the state Legislature to build resiliency through grants and initiatives. In its inaugural year, eligible grants fell into three categories:
- Making food distribution more efficient: Improving food access through staff support, capacity improvements, and equipment purchasing.
- Targeted community needs: Supporting organizations serving historically underrepresented communities and needs.
- Innovations and food system improvements: Improving local food systems and/or supporting local agriculture and businesses.
Grants ranged from just under $1,000 to more than $200,000. Projects included culturally-relevant foods access, staffing, gleaning program expansion, warehouse equipment, facility renovations, and more. The grant program contributes to WSDA’s ongoing Focus on Food Initiative, which the WSDA said focuses on strengthening Washington’s food system at the regional level and ensuring safe, nutritious food is effectively produced and distributed throughout our state.
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