Jacki Lorenz, development director with Rotary First Harvest, spoke about the work of First Harvest to provide produce for area food banks during last week’s Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary Club meeting.
Lorenz explained that Rotary First Harvest began in 1982 when Rotarians from the Seattle University District Rotary Club — led by Norm Hillis and then-University of Washington Police Chief Mike Shanahan — began encouraging backyard gardeners to plant extra produce to share with the hungry.
That year, home gardeners grew an extra 70,000 pounds of produce. Encouraged by this, Shanahan turned to his law enforcement colleagues and the Mount Vernon Police Chief called with a donation from a local farmer with 40,000 pounds of surplus cauliflower. A few days later, someone in Othello telegraphed with 60,000 pounds of potatoes.
Since that time, Rotary First Harvest has focused on moving surplus produce from Washington farmers to large warehouses equipped to handle thousands of pounds of food in one donation. The organization continues to receive a large portion of financial support from the Rotary Clubs in the Puget Sound area and their members. Since 1982, Rotary First Harvest has gathered more than 100 million pounds of produce for food banks in Washington state.
To learn more about Rotary First Harvest, visit www.firstharvest.org or the Edmonds Daybreakers at www.daybreakersrotary.com. The Edmonds Daybreakers meet on Tuesday mornings at 7 a.m. at the Edmonds Yacht Club. Visitors are welcome.