Tillamook, Clatsop and Pacific County (WA) will soon enjoy delivery of fresh, hyperlocal foods via North Coast Grown, a new delivery service created to increase resilience in the region’s communities by expanding local food access.
Led by a diverse collaborative of partners including the North Coast’s two nonprofit food hubs Food Roots and North Coast Food Web and Nehalem Provisions (a distribution company started by Jared Gardner of Nehalem River Ranch), the delivery service provides a community-led solution to address decade’s long challenges Oregon’s North Coast faces with local food access. This effort is part of a broader movement to build resilience into the North Coast Food System among partners of the North Coast Regional Food Systems Collaborative.
“Despite a rich legacy of local food bounty provided by hardworking producers throughout the nearly 5,200 square miles of Oregon’s North Coast, our region faces significant barriers in connecting the community with the goods and services of local food businesses. From geographic isolation, limited supply chain and food processing infrastructure to lack of funding for capacity building, there’s unfulfilled need in our community resulting in struggling food businesses and food insecurity,” said Lauren Sorg, Food Roots’ executive director.
Over 17 percent of North Coast residents receive SNAP food assistance benefits. North Coast Grown prioritizes free delivery to SNAP and low-income recipients to remove transportation barriers and ensure food access for families that are facing food insecurity. Depending on their locations, families can receive free home delivery or delivery at community drop sites throughout Tillamook, Clatsop and Pacific (WA) counties.
“Our vision is to build North Coast communities with hyperlocal food systems that are resilient during times of crisis like COVID-19. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of community partners in the region, we’ve made significant progress growing our local food system throughout the years, but there are still gaps in support for farmers and food businesses, and in access to good, local food for folks at lower incomes,” said Caitlin Seyfried, North Coast Food Web programs manager.
One challenge includes keeping locally produced food in the local community. Large institutions with buying power, like schools and hospitals, face severe budget constraints. They are often faced with the decision of quality versus quantity and make purchases based on the lowest per meal, which is provided by large corporate out-of-market distributors. This often results in poor quality food products, lack of nutritional value, and volumes of food waste, in addition to economic leakage in the region.
Given the geographic limitations of the region, lack of food processing facilities and capacity-building infrastructure, food producers and community members alike suffer when local food leaves the community. So does the economy.
Volume-based profit models make it difficult for local food producers to participate in the current distribution models. North Coast Grown is a community-led effort to innovate a solution to this challenge.
Shoppers can order fresh, local foods online at the North Coast Grown website at https://www.northcoastgrown.org/ for home delivery or delivery to one of several pickup sites throughout the North Coast. Food Roots, at https://www.foodrootsnw.org/about will focus delivery in areas on or near the 101 between Nehalem and Pacific City while North Coast Food Web at https://www.northcoastfoodweb.org/will offer delivery in Astoria, Warrenton, Hammond, Gearhart, Seaside, Cannon Beach and Manzanita.