Last weekend I volunteered to work the Northwest Harvest booth at a little benefit dinner for local farmers. It was my first gig for Northwest Harvest, which runs the Cherry Street food bank downtown and distributes staples to food banks across the state. I was all ready to go, my brain ripe with facts and stats crammed from the speaker’s manual.

“Things have gotten so much worse,” I said earnestly. “The price of food is rising, gas costs more, food banks are serving more clients with fewer resources.” Faces glazed over.

I tried again. “At Cherry Street, we just had our busiest month in forty years.” People raised an eyebrow, asked a couple of questions, picked up a ‘food security’ pamphlet and maybe a pen.

Eventually I worked myself into the unfamiliar position of convincing folks that bigger is sometimes better: “For every dollar you donate, we buy four dollars of food.” The organization’s buying power translates into nutritious meals for three people for just 53 cents.

Size and scale are part of what enable Full Circle Farm to donate 5000 pounds of fresh produce to Northwest Harvest every month. Full Circle is a 260-acre working organic farm in Carnation and also a distributor for other local organic farmers who can’t afford to be at every farmer’s market.

All of which made me feel pretty sheepish when dropping off my one pound of garden lettuces last week.

“Pea patch!” yelled out Mike, the floor manager at Cherry Street, when he saw me.

“I’ll have more next time,” I promised.

Mike shook his head and grinned. “We’ll take whatever you got.”

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