Kitsap Harvest prepares for Thanksgiving and beyond

As Christmas music begins to take over the airwaves and college football fills television screens, the holiday season is officially upon us.

And while this week, families and friends focus on what they’re thankful for, those less fortunate can’t be forgotten.

Kitsap Harvest and local food banks such as South Kitsap Helpline are working tirelessly to stock the shelves so every family has the opportunity to celebrate the season.

Kitsap Harvest is a program under Seattle’s Rotary First Harvest, a nonprofit committed to the food recovery efforts throughout Washington.

The program’s mission is to create a sustainable and community-based system of moving local produce to food banks in order to alleviate both food waste and food insecurity in the county.

“I’ve been calling it ‘farm to food bank,’” coordinator Martha Lefebvre said. Lefebvre is an AmeriCorps VISTA member working with the Kitsap Public Health Department.

“This is the first of a three-year grant, and I’m hoping it will one day be its own entity.”

Lefebvre began working with Kitsap Harvest in the beginning of 2016 and is currently working on setting up a community garden that will officially open in spring 2017.

Kitsap Harvest partnered with Seeds of Grace, a non-profit based out of Bremerton dedicated to building organic and sustainable gardens around the world.

“Once we get started in the spring, we’ll be able to grow vegetables to take to the food bank,” Lefebvre said.

“It will be 100-percent donation.”

In the summer, Kitsap Harvest worked with Positive Olalla Projects to glean unpicked fruit to donate.

Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. Lefebvre also set up at farmers markets to collect unsold produce to donate.

“It will be cool to support the community with them supporting right back,” she said.

Until that time, food banks continue to need support from their communities.

“I ended up talking to a couple food banks around here to see what they are doing for Thanksgiving, and they could definitely all still use donations,” Lefebvre said.

Along with non-perishables, food banks are looking for traditional holiday foods for families to take home.

The Salvation Army in Bremerton, located at 832 6th St., is also hosting a Thanksgiving Day meal from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Everyone is welcome,” Lefebvre said. “That’s something good for the public to know.”

If you aren’t able to donate, volunteering for organizations such as Kitsap Harvest of South Kitsap Helpline is also a big help.

“People can contact us or get put on our mailing list and request to get a newsletter that we make every month,” Lefebvre said.

“It shares community events or food bank hours, and it highlights a specific event going on each month.”

More information can be found on Kitsap Harvest’s Facebook page.

In Kitsap County, 30 percent of adults are food insecure, and 35 percent of children need free or reduced lunches.

Food banks are serving 48,000 residents a year. Whether you’re in a position to donate food items or time, anything this holiday season is appreciated, Lefebvre said.

“Keep supporting us, and stay involved by looking out for community garden news,” Lefebvre said.

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