Submitted by Lopez Island Family Resource Center
Food is an intrinsic part of our cultural identity. You’ve probably even heard someone say at the coffee shop: we are what we eat. What does that mean for island food security? We are isolated, hardworking, thriving with gardeners and speckled with farmers. An appreciation for fresh food runs strong, even through currents that divide us. In an emergency, we’d probably have a good shot at foraging food, at least for a little while. But for right now, there are other ways to make sure that Lopezians are food secure.
Unfortunately, even when employed it can be difficult to make ends meet. The cost of living in San Juan County is high compared to most rural areas making the balance of resources vastly disproportionate. Often, one of the first things that become compromised in a household budget is food. Cheaper processed food is what becomes easy and accessible.
Emma Carter of Goosefoot Produce got into agriculture as an intern at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project in upstate New York. This entity offers subsidized Community Supported Agriculture vegetable shares for low-income people. Carter and her farm partner Samantha Dillingham would like to work toward making locally grown vegetables available to island residents who might not otherwise be able to afford a vegetable-rich diet through their summer CSAs. Nutrition is especially important for those who are health impaired, making this population the focal point of the Lopez Island Family Resource Center’s Share a Share program.
So far, we have been able to fund four shares but know that there are more low-income and health-compromised island residents who would vastly benefit from a weekly source of nutritious veggies. Please consider sponsoring a Goosefoot Produce seasonal $660 share. If, like for many Lopezians, that lump sum price tag is too great for your budget but would like to enrich local food security than please: participate as you can.
Programs like the Lopez Fresh food bank, Grace Church nonperishable Food Bank, Grow a Row, Summer Lunch for school-aged children, Thanksgiving Baskets, or the orchard fruit Glean Team are all wonderful and effective vehicles for neighbors to help neighbors have a healthy, nutritious diet. All these resources are currently being utilized to their fullest capacity and have not quite fully met the needs of this island community. Per the ALICE report for San Juan County nearly 39 percent of resident struggle at times to meet basic needs. The state average is 19 percent.
How we strengthen food security on Lopez is like a 2,500-piece puzzle that forms a web of inter-reliance, empowerment, adaptability, and with home-grown solutions at its core. Carter and Dillingham say it well, “to us food security means year-round access to nutritious food for all Lopezians regardless of economic status. We also believe that food security and food sovereignty go hand in hand and that the more food we can produce and distribute here on Lopez without relying on corporate agriculture the more resilient we are as a community.” If you would like to know more about any of these projects or to get involved, please contact Alaya Battalia at the LIFRC office.