This year, the Market Foundation increased our investment in the Bulk Buy Program, an important part of our Food Access offerings that mutually benefits both our service partners and Pike Place Market farmers.
“Bulk Buy” provides a seasonal budget for agencies like Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank to make bulk purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers at the Market. This budget helps our partner agencies offset their operating costs and purchase high-quality food for clients in the community, while directly supporting and generating income for Market farmers.
The produce is used in a variety of programs that support our Market community, like culturally- appropriate grocery bags for the Food Bank’s home delivery program and free meals at the Senior Center. Chef Brenda Lee Neuweiler, Meals Program Manager at the Senior Center, is famous for turning this raw wholesale produce into scrumptious, inventive dishes for Market seniors. “We do a lot of fun stuff,” says Brenda. “We did banh mi sandwiches a couple weeks ago, we’ve done Miami-style Cuban sandwiches, fish tacos yesterday… And I do it using produce from the farmers.”
Brenda explains that in a large-scale meal program like theirs, it can be challenging to source food that is nutritious, high-quality, affordable, and accessible. Bulk Buy support from the Market Foundation helps integrate delicious organic produce into their robust meal calendar, with no added cost to the Senior Center. “We’re in that season now where we’re getting all this great stuff for summer…” she says. “It’s farm fresh, so it’s being picked when it’s ripe and sent to us within a day. It makes a huge difference in the taste and quality.”
Due to rising food insecurity and increasing production and transportation costs, it is all the more important to continue investing in our Bulk Buy Program. “With prices going up, even our basic sandwich bread that we use every day has doubled in price,” says Brenda. “So the fact that we have money available to spend for high-quality produce is huge.”
By centering collaboration and listening to the needs of our service partners, we’re able to foster meaningful programs that help expand food access in the Market while also supporting the critical work of local farmers.