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Feeding the hungry and homeless | Art & Appetite


Last updated 3/3/2017 at Noon

How do you feed the hungry and provide for the homeless in a modern society where we’re told such people really shouldn't exist?

I don't disagree. There shouldn't be 600 homeless children in the Edmonds School District whose food sources are uncertain. But those numbers are growing, not decreasing.

Adequately feeding those in need in the age of quarter-billion-dollar fighter aircraft shouldn't be a hard sell, but it’s not always easy to convince people to help the poor when so many seem to be terrified that someone, somewhere, might get something for nothing. We all know people like that. It seems as though they’d rather let children go hungry than allow the mythical “deadbeat” to somehow get a free meal.

Fortunately, there are also quite a few people who are simply trying to make sure that everyone has enough to eat.

Project Harvest is a modern approach to the ancient practice of gleaning. Formed in 2014, it’s a collaboration of AmeriCorps/VISTA, Volunteers of America of Western Washington, Rotary First Harvest, and the 21-member Snohomish County Food Bank Coalition.

In the beginning, Project Harvest successfully connected with farms – finding ways to use farm surpluses at local food banks, eventually adding Farmer’s Market participants. Conversations with interested local gardeners led to awareness that there are a lot of folks out there who would love to contribute.

Gleaning coordinator Stephanie Aubert shared this example: “I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who had for many years grown a large garden to feed his family. The kids had grown up, and so now he has a garden that produces more than he needs. We’ll be working with him to see that his surplus is available to those in need at the food bank nearest him. In a sense, it’s a case of neighbors feeding neighbors. It’s the same with fruit trees; people have these large surpluses they can't consume themselves. That’s where we can help.”

If you have a garden patch that might be able to grow a truckload of something with a longer shelf life – like root vegetables for instance – why not plant it and donate some of your harvest to your food bank through Project Harvest?

If you love gardening, what better way to help your neighbors in need? I've talked to a lot of people over the years who’ve had to get in line at a food bank at some point in their lives. It's a great and necessary resource.

Project Harvest is looking for volunteers to help with harvesting, too. Who’s going to pick those apples? It sounds fun. Why not recruit some friends or co-workers?

Project Harvest has two volunteer orientations scheduled that will include a tour of the Everett Food Bank and the Snohomish County central food bank and distribution center. They are at 9 a.m. Tuesday March 7, and Friday, March 10, at Volunteers For America, 1230 Broadway, Everett.

You need not attend an orientation to volunteer, but you might find it informative.

For more information on how to offer your garden and fruit surpluses, or to volunteer to help with the harvest, visit Project Harvest’s Facebook page or call Stephanie Aubert at 425-259-3191, Ext. 13058.

James Spangler is the owner of Spangler Book Exchange in Edmonds and an aficionado of all things art and appetite. Do you know of a Snohomish County restaurant, art gallery or theatrical show worthy of a review? Call him at 206-795-0128 or email him at


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