Photo courtesy Galena White
(From left to right) Organizer Galena White, Nola (daughter of Jennifer Grant), Board Member Jennifer Grant, Board Member Ranette Iding, Volunteer Consultant Johnathan Oliver from Heart On My Sleeve.

New co-op brings fresh produce to Delridge

Neighborhood potluck March 28

When Galena White initially decided to start volunteering in her community, she wasn't sure exactly how she might do that. But after learning about the King County Food and Fitness Initiative she became inspired to help her neighbors make healthy choices.

White herself had recently lost 40 pounds by altering her diet to include more fresh produce and was amazed at how much healthier she felt. But in talking with members of her community she discovered that many residents in Delridge were both concerned and disappointed by the lack of healthy food available in their neighborhood.

To address this problem White is leading a community effort to start a new Delridge Produce Co-operative. With a group of board members, she will be applying for a city Neighborhood Matching Fund grant of $15,000.

“Nobody’s actually working on getting a healthy food store in Delridge,” said White. “With the help of this fund it is feasible to get started this year, and I can commit myself to getting it done.”

If awarded, the funds would be used toward a "mobile market," a stand handing out produce throughout the Delridge neighborhood for four weeks this summer. Along with offering free fruit and vegetables to the first 50 customers each day, the co-op will collect information to find out what kind of produce Delridge residents want and how much they can pay for it.

The project goal is to eventually have a permanent tent or storefront providing fresh, locally grown produce to the community seven days a week.

“People in Delridge can’t walk to get fresh produce, so what Galena is trying to do, making it more convenient for people to access healthy foods, is a good thing for the community,” said Ron Angeles, one of West Seattle's neighborhood district coordinators for the city.

Being a non-profit organization, White believes they will be able to offer produce at a significantly low price. Any donations to the co-op would also be tax-deductible.

Several local growers have already expressed interest in the project. Two urban fruit tree agencies and five local farmers have agreed to be suppliers. White also plans to work with the West Seattle Food Bank, which may distribute produce vouchers for the co-op.

With less than three weeks until the application is due to the city, White said they are hoping to receive 1,000 pledged volunteer hours. The group is also looking for more board members that are willing to volunteer ten hours a month.

To increase community awareness of the project the co-op will host a Produce Partners’ Potluck at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center on March 28 at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendees are asked to bring a healthy dish to share with their neighbors and contribute to the discussion defining what “healthy food” is.

The event will include a free raffle with prizes, a quiz show to test food knowledge, two local bands and kids play equipment. Local chef Hutch Hutchinson will also demonstrate how to cook his popular mole chili.

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