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Kitsap Harvest

Kitsap Harvest

Kitsap Harvest operates as a gleaning organization, actively harvesting fresh produce from the local landscape. This pivotal role in gleaning serves as its primary function, facilitating the distribution of healthy food to the community. It is crucial to highlight that in 2016, prior to the establishment of Kitsap Harvest, a work group recognized the importance of gleaning as a straightforward and cost-effective approach. This method enhances access to fresh food, addresses food waste concerns, and contributes to promoting local community health.

“Gleaning,” is the process of making use of food that would otherwise go to waste. Opportunities for gleaning are abundant within the community, with 40% of landfill waste being food, half of which is still considered consumable before disposal.

Gleaning initiatives have proven highly effective in increasing the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, fostering improved eating habits, and mitigating diseases associated with dietary patterns, such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

KPHD Initiative and Purpose:

Kitsap Harvest, initiated within the Kitsap Health District in 2016, emerged from a recognition of its potential to positively impact local community health. With the support of AmeriCorps Vista from Harvest Against Hunger, the program began its journey. The overarching goals aimed to increase access to fresh food, combat food waste, and promote healthier eating habits.

Program Evolution:

The program’s evolution was driven by the identification of food waste opportunities such as unharvested urban fruit trees, excess home garden production, and surplus from local farmers. Fruit Tree Gleaning, Grow A Row, and Farmers Market rescue initiatives were formed, becoming key sources of healthy, organic produce through volunteer-assisted harvesting.

Observations of challenges faced by seniors and under-resourced individuals, including mobility issues and limited resources, led to the decision for direct distribution targeting specific demographics. To maintain dignity and reduce negative connotations, Kitsap Harvest implemented a no-sign-up policy.

At the end of the Vista year with Kitsap Public Health District, the program was adopted by WSU Kitsap Extension office, which had previously assisted in liability coverage under WSU’s volunteer program.

WSU Partnership and KH Growth:

Kitsap Harvest’s growth transitioned seamlessly to WSU Kitsap Extension, currently housed within WSU Kitsap Extension’s SNAP program. The active harvesting and distribution of fresh, locally gleaned produce contribute to ensuring consistent and healthy food access throughout the community.

The program’s commitment to comprehensive community health includes collaborations with like-minded organizations, enhancing value and increasing the quality of life for clients. In Kitsap County, where significant percentages of adults, children, and seniors experience food insecurity, Kitsap Harvest plays a pivotal role in improving access to nutritious food.

Non-profit Creation:

In pursuit of its mission, Kitsap Harvest encountered legal requirements under the Good Samaritan Act, leading to the decision to establish itself as a recognized Food Distribution Organization. WSU, recognizing Kitsap Harvest’s potential impact as a standalone organization in the community, decided to stay on course as an incubator, providing invaluable support in terms of dedicated staff time for coordination during this transformative phase.

The establishment of a board in 2020 marked a critical juncture where governance policies and a vision statement were developed. The shift towards nonprofit status required strategic steps, including joining the Kitsap Community Foundation for fiscal sponsorship. Successfully acquiring nonprofit status as a 501(c)(3) in June 2022 marked a significant achievement, paving the way for Kitsap Harvest to operate independently and sustainably.

The years 2020-2022 were marked by successes, including the creation of consistent distribution routes, securing a warehouse, and acquiring a refrigerated box truck. Notably, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kitsap Harvest witnessed increased volunteer engagement, reinforcing the program’s commitment to being a volunteer-run organization in the future.

Nonprofit Stabilization:

WSU’s indispensable role in supporting Kitsap Harvest has been multifaceted and instrumental in its journey. Initially, WSU contributed significantly by assisting in grant writing and fiscal management during the program’s conception. This support continued through ongoing oversight and advisory contributions by Paisley Gallagher, who initially joined the project as a Vista. Paisley played a pivotal role in shaping the goals and commitments of Kitsap Harvest, accompanying the program’s transition to WSU and furthering its growth towards becoming a nonprofit. During this evolution, Paisley moved from operational involvement to a strategic advisory position.

The WSU commitment extends to short-term support, focusing on critical aspects such as board recruitment, fiscal responsibility, and volunteer coordination. This collaborative approach ensures that Kitsap Harvest has the necessary guidance and resources for its continued success and sustainability.


If you are interested in learning more or getting involved with Kitsap Harvest, please visit their website: