Dozens of food boxes were distributed Friday to Latino and indigenous Latino families in Skagit County as part of a project supporting food access and area farmers.

It was the continuation of a project earlier this fall aimed at connecting Latino-owned farms with Latino and indigenous Latino farmworkers in need.

About 670 pounds of produce, including fruits, vegetables, and herbs, were purchased from Regino Farms, Cabrera Farms, Silva Family Farm and Lopez Family Farm for the project.

The project was organized by the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC) and Catholic Community Services (CCS) Farmworker Center, both in Mount Vernon.

“It was a huge hit last time, and people were asking when there was going to be more,” said Alex Perez, project manager at NABC. “The families and staff loved the experience and said there was still a huge need.”

Skagit Gleaners, which rescues food and redistributes it to prevent waste, supplemented Friday’s boxes with potatoes, squash, frozen vegetables, meat and fish, and other items.

The state Department of Agriculture provided funds to purchase the farmers’ produce as part of the agency’s efforts to address food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have prioritized supporting WA farmers, processors and companies to create both a public health benefit (food access) and economic benefit (supporting WA and NW businesses to feed Washingtonians),” Chris Iberle, Farm to School lead for the Department of Agriculture, wrote in an email.

He said the NABC/CCS project supports farmers whose normal buyers may have been affected by pandemic-related closures, supports farmers from socially disadvantaged backgrounds, and connects locally grown foods to food insecure and high-risk people.

Iberle said the department has relied on state funds, federal CARES Act funding, and a public assistance grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to support food security projects.

“Future funding is uncertain at this time and depends largely on the federal government,” he said.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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