Hunger is a fact of life. It is not squalid, or sordid. It does not equate to poverty, famine, or disease. It does not discriminate. You’ve heard it before – you don’t need to look much farther than your own backyard to find persistent, pervasive hunger. In fact, one in six people right here in King County are food insecure (higher than the national average, which is roughly one in eight people). Washington is the 23rd hungriest state in the nation – and these statistics will continue to swell as budget cuts threaten programs like SNAP that provide basic needs services to those who are struggling. Hunger in our own backyards isn’t going away anytime soon.
But let’s take a different view of all this. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if your backyard could be a source of sustenance for your neighbors who are experiencing hunger? We certainly think so. That idea is at the heart of what City Fruit does.
Fruit trees all over Seattle, in public parks, along trails, and, you guessed it, right in your very own backyard, can be a plentiful source of food for our city – or, this bounty can fall to the ground and go to waste, while bellies remain empty. We do our best to make sure trees are well cared for, fruit is harvested on time, and distributed where it is needed most. Our impact continues to grow every year as our organization stretches its sapling limbs. In 2014, City Fruit’s 6th year, our harvest yielded nearly 28,000 lbs of fruit, and we partnered with 40 recipient organizations to keep the fruit flowing for about 20 weeks.
All these numbers are encouraging – they may not do much to change the statistics in the first paragraph, but for us, for our work and our neighbors, they do mean something. They mean fuller barrels of fresh produce at the food bank. They mean a healthy, refreshing snack, locally and organically grown, for someone who wouldn’t otherwise have had access to that. Every piece of fruit has a story. Although we can’t follow every apple and pear, we can learn a great deal from our neighbors about the non-quantitative impacts of the harvest. This blog series will provide a taste of some of those stories, from food banks and other programs around our city. We invite you to tune in every other Wednesday for some fresh perspectives on our food system and food security in Seattle – and how City Fruit’s work fits into all of this.