Seattle to the World: Solid Ground

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Solid Ground's Food Resources Programs Connect Community Surplus With Community Need

The story:
Since its founding in 1974, Solid Ground (originally known as the Fremont Public Association) now operates 30 creative community programs that help nearly 33,000 families combat poverty each year. Their greatest strength lies in their ability to connect the dots between community needs and available resources: the Community Fruit Tree Harvest, for example, sends Solid Ground volunteers to pick surplus fruit from residential trees (with owners' permission), and then distribute the fresh produce to grateful food banks, meal programs and senior centers. The Harvest is part of Solid Ground's larger Lettuce Link program, which provides fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to the people who need them most through a comprehensive network of gardening, education and donation systems.

"Solid Ground's food resource programs really make everything easier for all of the distributors, the private donors, the families who depend on food banks … they're the middlemen and the advocates, and they just make everyone work together so much more easily," says Paige Collins, manager of the Providence Regina House food and clothing bank. Every spring/summer season since 2003, the bank has served its needy clients more than 3,000-plus pounds of fresh produce grown in Solid Ground's Marra Farm. "Some of the same volunteers over at the farm are local kids, some of whom show up with their families at the food bank on Saturday morning, needing food. So it's like a circle of love around here. The Lettuce Link program has also gone so far as to arrange cooking demonstrations for our food bank clients!"

Why it's Worldchanging
With both interest in local food and hunger on the rise, Solid Ground's innovative programs show that it's possible to address multiple needs at once. Solid Ground's system not only addresses the nutritional needs of the poor, it also stops would-be resources from becoming garbage, bringing us closer to a zero-waste city. And the programs are inherently educational without preaching: linking citizens who have extra with those who don't have enough opens the door to meaningful relationships and a broader understanding of the world.

Photo credit: flickr/ItzaFineDay, licensed by Creative Commons.


This post is part of the series, "Seattle to the World: 100 Best Innovations from the Emerald City."

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