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This past week has been a whirlwind of outings and new experiences. On Sunday I went to my very first Pride Parade. It was the most interesting spectacle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much color at any event. The costumes were outrageous and ranged from rainbow tutus and headdresses to bare minimal clothing. Although the colors were the first thing I noticed, the energy of the crowd struck me even more. When scanning the crowd, I saw so many people who were jumping up and down with fervor, waving their hands, and cheering when we passed. They reminded me of hardcore fanatics cheering on their favorite team. The excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd was contagious and definitely woke me up from my groggy state. I was amazed by the number of people who were able to unite for a cause to achieve equal human rights.
On Tuesday I visited Seattle Community Farm for the first time and harvested my first produce! Although it was exciting to be in the field, I realized that I prefer washing to harvesting produce. By the third bed, my back was aching from being bent over. I commend all those farmers/gardeners who enjoy or at least can handle such laborious work. After the harvest, there were other tasks that needed to be completed before we were done for the day. This was when I got to use a machete for the first time. I was responsible for composting and had to first chop up the weeds and grass clippings. It felt amazing whacking away at the large pile of weeds with the machete. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
On Wednesday I went on a field trip with my department to Whidbey Island. To get there, we took a ferry, which was my first ferry ride here in Washington. The ride was pretty quick but absolutely gorgeous. In the distance I could see the outline of mountain ranges and landscapes of lush greenery. The island itself was equally beautiful with a slight rustic feel. While there we visited a local farm and food bank to gather more insight on farming techniques and operating options. We were all stunned by how smoothly the operation ran. It was so impressive.
Both the farm and food bank are completely community driven, and most of the volunteers are regulars. Interestingly, the farm and food bank are located next to each other on the same piece of land. The front lawn of the bank is the farm! Because of this close proximity, the produce that is harvested makes it to the shelves of the food bank in a matter of minutes. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, when we walked into the food bank itself, our eyes widened: the freshly picked produce is the “cheapest.” Everything in the food bank is theoretically free but is assigned a point value. Each client receives 70 points a month to spend as he/she chooses. The produce has the lowest point value while many items that are high in sodium or sugar are of higher point value. This is completely opposite of what most grocery stores are like. Typically fresh produce is more expensive in comparison to packaged goods, so lower income families eat fewer fruits and vegetables and more packaged products. With its innovative point system, Good Cheer Food Bank flipped this to encourage more healthy eating habits.
This mode of encouragement is remarkable. The clients of Good Cheer Food Bank receive produce that is fresher than what most people get to choose from at the farmers market. Good Cheer has created a progressive program that could revolutionize the fight against hunger by promoting healthy foods.