We all know the phrase, “it takes a village.” This statement rings true for the Spokane region, where stakeholders are increasing access to healthy and nutritious food and developing a vibrant local food system from the ground up through the aid of strong relationships. Throughout the day, you will witness and experience the importance of robust community partnerships that are transforming lives in holistic, equitable, and impactful ways.
To learn about the broader context of the regional food system, we will head first to Second Harvest, a multi-faceted hunger relief network that distributes an average of two million pounds of food each month in 26 counties throughout eastern Washington and northern Idaho, including to more than 250 food banks, meal centers, and mobile markets. Their facilities include a state-of-the-art kitchen space that hosts many education, nutrition, and cooking programs for the community. We’ll tour their warehouse, hear from a number of their community partners, and participate in a short volunteer activity.
For lunch and learning, we’ll go to Westwood Middle School. Here we will explore the health, nutrition, and cultural change outcomes that have resulted from a district-wide school meal scratch cooking program developed in partnership with Empire Health Foundation, Spokane Regional Health District, and Washington State University Extension Food $ense Nutrition Education. All 52 schools in the Spokane Public School district, the second largest school district in Washington state, now offer healthy, scratch-cooked meals to K-12 students, and childhood obesity rates have decreased by 12% across the nine regional school districts that have switched to scratch cooking.
Our last stop will take us to northwest Spokane to visit River City Youth Ops. Their mission is to create opportunities for youth enrichment in the neighborhood through community engagement, job training, and education. We will hear from youth leaders in the program, take a walking tour of their urban garden plots, and help harvest produce for sale at a weekly farmers’ market.
Second Harvest, Spokane, WA
● Emily Franko, Jesuit Volunteer Corps member, Second Harvest
● Kathy Hedgcock, director of strategic gifts, Second Harvest
● Drew Meuer, chief development officer, Second Harvest
● Ben Prez, Washington Service Corps member; coordinator, Second Harvest at Schools, Second Harvest
● Mindy Wallace, nutrition education manager, Second Harvest
Westwood Middle School, Spokane, WA
● Raeann Duncar, SNAP-Ed behavioral economics coordinator, Washington State University Spokane County Extension
● Chef LJ Klinkenberg, director of nutrition services, Cheney School District
● Laura Martin, senior program associate, Obesity Prevention, Empire Health Foundation
● Natalie Tauzin, healthy eating lead, Spokane Regional Health District
● Lori van Anrooy, Food $ense program manager, Washington State University Spokane County Extension
River City Youth Ops, Spokane, WA
● Dena Carr, executive director
● Maddy Halverson, farm manager
Jewels Dietrich, manager of daily operations, The Women’s Hearth
Adell Whitehead, family support services manager, Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Outreach Center at East Central Community Center
Linda Westermeyer, director, The Better Living Center