Creating a community-based organization at the beginning of a pandemic may sound like an impossible feat, but Plant Based Food Share was created in order to show King County residents that it is possible, necessary, and, in fact, a recipe for hope and success.
Plant Based Food Share (PBFS) is a community food program that provides healthy plant-based food boxes to Seattle area families facing food insecurity. PBFS serves low-income, underserved urban communities who live in food deserts and includes African American, Indigenous, Latinx communities as well as BIPOC children, families, elders, and domestic violence victims.
PBFS is designed to offer three things to clients receiving boxes:
- Produce and pantry essentials for families to prepare meals during the week;
- Healthy plant-based meals cooked by chefs of color; and
- Tools to grow food at homes with limited space.
Ariel Bangs is the Executive Director of PBFS as well as a local chef, culinary anthropologist, educator, food justice activist and healing-through-food advocate. PBFS was founded when Ariel witnessed the need to offer healthy plant-based food boxes to urban communities in King County when COVID-19 began to impact everyone’s lives in March 2020.
PBFS began with distribution days on Mondays in Seattle but have expanded efforts to distribute boxes in Federal Way on Fridays and added a Sunday distribution day in Seattle to feed more families.
“We are constantly growing our mission of feeding our friends and neighbors in need and eventually want to become a community resource with our own space for educational classes about health, gardening, and plant-based cooking,” said Bangs.
“Not everyone has the same resources to access healthy produce and plant-based products,” said Bangs. “Our goal is to make sure our clients who are unable to afford the best produce can still have it.”
PBFS has provided over 22,270 families food and supported local BIPOC farmers incorporating over almost 575,000 pounds of their locally grown produce. PBFS has offered over 30,000 plant starts so that families can grow their own food indoors, 30,000 heirloom seeds, and provided over 2,000 plant based healthy meals from local BIPOC chefs.
“We do this work as a way to heal our communities and encourage healthy lifestyles for those that are underserved and have historically been unable to grow their own food or access healthy foods,” said Bangs. “Ultimately, we want to people to have access to healthy plant-based food, and we want them to think differently about how they are fueling their minds, bodies, and communities.”
“In the near future, we hope to acquire farmland so we can provide locally grown produce for our boxes,” said Bangs. “We are fundraising to build a space and access farmland while also providing plant-based food that is entirely supported by generous donations.”
Pictures courtesy of Plant Based Food Share.