Farm-to-Family with Good Food Bags

by Jami Bess, Whitney Nakamura, & Jamie Aaronson

Open Arms is proud to share with you a biweekly food delivery program to serve our families with fresh produce. Thanks to a partnership with Tilth Alliance Produce and funding from Best Starts for Kids, we are making fresh, chemical-free produce accessible to low-income families in Seattle and South King County. We currently provide home-delivered fresh produce to families with children prenatal to 5 years old.

“Our families love receiving the food bags! I’ve been talking with them about the different items and discussing their benefits, and why they’re good for our bodies. The kiddos devoured the blueberries in this week’s bag, and their families were surprised! They haven’t been buying blueberries, and didn’t even know that they like them!”
– Memorie Gladstone, Open Arms PS Outreach Doula

About the program

Many of our Open Arms families receive SNAP benefits. During the government shut down earlier this year, we began searching for accessible, barrier-free ways to help our families who were experiencing food insecurity gain access to nutritious foods. Since April, we have partnered with Tilth Alliance Produce and Best Start for Kids to provide bags of organic fresh fruits and vegetables, free of charge for families we serve.

Tilth Alliance Produce works with specific partners to provide bags of fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown using organic practices. We are currently receiving bi-weekly delivery of fresh produce, serving over 30 families each month!

Good Food Bags Guiding Principles:

  • Make local, organic food accessible
  • Promote public health
  • Support local farmers who practice environmentally conscious, organic and GMO-free agriculture
  • Encourage eating of seasonal produce
  • Foster community empowerment and development

How it works

Beginning April 3rd of this year, Open Arms began a relationship with Tilth Alliance, who provides a bi-weekly delivery of up to 50 Good Food Bags (GFBs) to be distributed to the families we serve with funding through BSK. We receive Wednesday deliveries to our offices in El Centro De la Raza that will continue every other week through December 4th, 2019. GFBs are received with a flyer with information on the contents of the bag, the origin of the produce contained, and fun recipes for families to try!

Some families pick up their bags directly from our offices and our doulas come to our office to pick up the rest of the bags, which they distribute as they visit pregnant and parenting families. Bags are picked up in room 207 in El Centro, where we have our community Baby Boutique (open Monday-Thursday 10am-3pm, Friday 10am-12pm): a barrier-free, open resource for our families – all of whom are low-income – as well as to anyone in the community who walks in and is in need of baby clothes and lactation supplies.

We have a survey for families (pictured left) to share their favorite produce with their doulas, which we then share back to Tilth Alliance as they pick our future produce. Food and culture are inseparably linked to healthy families, communities, and futures. Here’s to many delicious and nutritious meals ahead!

Tilth Alliance & Open Arms Birth Doula Services

We were excited to begin our Tilth partnership because it enables us to provide fresh, organic produce free-of-cost to our clients who have expressed food insecurity. All of the families in our program are “low-income,” and many clients have expressed concerns or identified challenges in meeting their basic needs, like having nutritious meals. While we knew this partnership would help our clients, we did not anticipate some of the other ways that introducing this resource would change the conversations and impact relationships – among doulas and clients, as well as among clients and their children.

For example, a Latina doula shared that many of her Latina clients have opened up about their families, histories, and have shared stories about their ties to farming. When they discuss the produce items in the bags and discover where the bag’s produce is sourced, it has created special opportunities for the doula and her clients to find commonality and take pride in their culture, food/meals, and some clients have shared stories about their connections and/or family members working on local farms. Another doula shared that delivering the produce bags has been a special way for her to stay connected to a former client. Although Zoe completed services with her doula in the winter, when her doula learned of the Tilth partnership, she offered to deliver the produce bags because she knew her client was in need of this resource. Last week, during her bag drop-off, Zoe shared exciting progress in her job search. Her doula was appreciative of this brief exchange and was grateful to close the loop on topics they had previously discussed and celebrate her success towards reaching her goals!

Interested in Good Food Bags?

  • To receive a Good Food Bag, please connect with your Open Arms Doula.
  • To support programs like Good Food Bags, please consider making a donation here.
  • Questions about Good Food Bags? Please contact: Jami Bess, Outreach Doula Program Manager, email:, phone: (206)788-8773