The High Desert Food & Farm Alliance was recently granted $4,582 from the Clabough Foundation (www.claboughfoundation.com) to develop their garden and food skills programs for disadvantaged families: teaching the Oregon Food Bank's Seed to Supper & Cooking Matters courses, enhancing the Food Donation Database, and increasing food distribution efforts through the Backyard Gardener program.
Throughout the tri-county, 16-18% of the population is considered food insecure. This means that that over 32,000 families in our region live in households that lack the necessary means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. As a result, they struggle with hunger at various times throughout the year.
The HDFFA has two primary programs, publishing the recently released Food & Farm Directory with an online searchable feature, and projects that support skills development and access to fresh locally produced healthy food.
Their Seed to Supper program teaches participants how to plan, plant, nurture, and harvest their own gardens through classroom learning and hands-on gardening. The Cooking Matters program empowers families to be self-sufficient in the kitchen by teaching cooking skills focused on nutrient dense and healthy foods. Cooking Matters participants meet for two hours, once a week for six weeks and are team-taught by a volunteer chef and nutrition educator. Lessons cover meal preparation, grocery shopping, food budgeting, and nutrition. Thanks to the generosity of the new grant from the Clabough Foundation, the HDFFA has resources to build gardens for the residents at St. Vincent de Paul and the Shepherd's House, giving them the skills necessary to feed their family.
Another program increases awareness and education in our community to food donations. Existing state and federal regulatory frameworks not only allows food donation but encourages the practice and protects donors through the Good Samaritan Laws when donors practice acceptable food handling skills. Beth Neumann, board member and TedXBend presenter, has developed the Food Donation Database (www.hdffa.org/food-donations) where community members with donations can find the nearest food pantry by entering their address into a pre-made google map.
Ms. Neumann hopes to "build bridges in our community by setting up partnerships between the restaurants, event planners, and stores which may have excess food with our local non-profit hunger relief agencies that are in dire need of the resources."
The third project is the Backyard Gardener Program where gardeners can work together to increase the volume of locally grown backyard garden veggies reaching our local food pantries. "We are so excited to be able to move our programs forward", says Jane Sabin-Davis Board Chair. HDFFA is keenly aware that purchasing local food is often outside the discretionary income of some local residents. However, there are other ways to get local food on our tables and our goal is to expand our community's ability