HDFFA’s 2023 Programs Reached More than 65,000 Central Oregon Residents


(Aaron & Lauren, owners of Fibonacci Farm and their dogs Sheldon and Theo | Photo by Amanda Photographic)

High Desert Food and Farm Alliance (HDFFA) believes everyone deserves good food. To that end, HDFFA supports the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise good food in order to make it available to everyone, particularly those experiencing food insecurity.

HDFFA’s Program Director, Louise Shirley, reflected on the organization’s 2023 work and its rapid expansion to meet the needs of our Central Oregon community. “We have had a record-breaking year, thanks to our incredible staff, volunteers, and community partners! HDFFA recognizes the growing levels of food insecurity, and the massive disparities in access to fresh food, across our region. In response, we have expanded our support of rural community members through our new Rural Food Security program, and have laid the groundwork for further expansion of both our Food Access and Agricultural Support programs.” HDFFA estimates its programs reached more than 65,000 Central Oregonians.

Support for Farmers

The growing season in Central Oregon is short and farmers need help to ensure they can make the most of it to grow as much high quality produce as possible. Sometimes this requires capital investments to make essential improvements. Thanks to their supporters, HDFFA developed an On Farm Efficiency Grant (OFEG) program to help farmers make equipment upgrades. One of HDFFA’s 2023 OFEG grantees, Fibonacci Farm, received funding for a new heated greenhouse to extend their season. This year, because of this addition, they were able to bring tomatoes to market in the last week of June – eight weeks earlier than in 2022! 

Grow & Give: Farm Fresh Foods for Those Who Need It Most

HDFFA’s Grow & Give program collects fresh, nutritious produce that might otherwise be wasted. The program relies on our relationships with local farmers and the NeighborImpact regional food bank. Some of HDFFA’s partner farms kindly grow produce specifically for this program, prioritizing the produce that food pantry clients prefer or cannot often otherwise access.

In addition, volunteer Harvest Team members are available to pick leftover harvests from their fields. HDFFA also tables at Farmers Markets throughout the season to collect produce not sold from our partner farms. In 2023, Grow & Give collected a record 51,475 pounds of produce from farm gleans, farmers markets, and community gardens to deliver to NeighborImpact…which equates to more than 42,000 meals for our neighbors who need access to good healthy food. And – did you know that farmers are compensated by HDFFA for this leftover produce? Grow & Give helps so many people in so many ways.

Fresh Harvest Kits: Ready-to-Make Meal Kits

HDFFA’s Fresh Harvest Kit program has also grown by more than 50% this year, thanks to HDFFA’s partners. Fresh Harvest Kits are ready-to-make meal kits consisting of a recipe (in both Spanish and English) and all of the ingredients needed to cook a meal for four: fresh produce, pantry staples, and a spice packet from Savory Spice. More than 3,200 Fresh Harvest Kits have been distributed with seven different partners from La Pine to Warm Springs. This year also saw a successful pilot partnership with Council on Aging to distribute Fresh Harvest Kits through their Meals on Wheels program for seniors in Sisters. In 2023, these kits provided more than 13,000 meals for Central Oregonians experiencing food insecurity.

VeggieRx: Connecting Patients with Produce

VeggieRx, HDFFA’s fresh food prescription program, provides fresh produce to patients with diet-modifiable medical conditions. This year, HDFFA is launching its first ever winter pilot program in collaboration with Central Oregon Locavore, in direct response to community need. Patients who enroll in VeggieRx show significant health improvements. One 2023 participant shared, “I finally feel like I have enough veggies! I have more energy and less inflammation. And less blood sugar flare ups too.”

Shuwiyasha Food Sovereignty Project

The tribal-led Shuwiyasha Food Sovereignty project focuses on breaking down internalized colonization within the food system. The goal is to reduce health inequities, increase knowledge around food systems and food sovereignty, increase access to fresh foods, and lay a foundation for future local food production. This is a joint project with the Warm Springs Community Action Team (WSCAT). In 2023, HDFFA helped WSCAT to publish a food sovereignty children’s book for community members, and supported the construction of a new greenhouse in the Warm Springs Children’s Learning Garden to extend the growing season and associated learning opportunities for children and families. In addition, HDFFA offers both the Fresh Harvest Kit and VeggieRx programs in Warm Springs.

Consumer Education and Resources

HDFFA further educated consumers on the importance of supporting local food producers and where to find locally sourced items through distributing 32,000 copies of our High Desert Food and Farm Directory as well as maintaining its online equivalent, GetaTaste.org. They held successful Farm-to-Table events at Hablo Tacos and Feast Food Company, and also launched the local recognition of Central Oregon World Food Day on October 16 with Horizon Broadcasting.

2024 & Beyond!

HDFFA will continue to offer each of these programs and more. The organization is especially excited to launch their first fun, family-friendly annual SOUPer Bowl on February 3 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Skyline Drive in Bend. A fundraiser for the nonprofit that seeks to ensure that everyone has access to good food, the admission fee of $15 entitles attendees to soup samples from over a dozen local restaurants. All proceeds will go to support HDFFA’s programming in Food Access, Agricultural Support, and Consumer Education/Resources and ticket sales begin January 3, 2024. Says Executive Director Sharon Maier-Kennelly, “We are excited to continue to seek ways to connect our community with locally sourced, healthy foods in 2024…and beyond!”

HDFFA thanks our community of supporters who make our work possible.



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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. CascadeBusNews.com • CBN@CascadeBusNews.com

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