“It started with a simple message on Facebook on April 29.
George Ahearn had heard about farmers in Eastern Washington who were giving away potatoes and onions and wanted to know if someone had a truck he could borrow to haul the discarded crops to Western Washington food banks.
The response was immediate and dramatic. A convoy of four trucks, including two with trailers, made the trip east, helping provide quite a bounty for local food banks.
“We brought back 9.36 tons when my original goal was 2,000 pounds (one ton),” Aheard said.
The effort didn’t end there. EastWest Food Rescue is now a registered nonprofit organization, having delivered more than 2.4 million pounds of crops to more than 160 food banks. Not only is it helping with food security, but the organization is paying the farmers, who saw the market for some of their crops vanish during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The whole thing started because of COVID,” said Nancy Balin, who answered Ahearn’s initial request and is now one of three directors of the program. “They immediately lost all the restaurant contracts they had for these restaurant-quality potatoes and onions. And since European countries were shut down, they weren’t exporting them because their restaurants were closed.”