There is greater power when we work collectively rather than individually.

Farmers markets across Washington County are doing what farmers have done for centuries: providing food for people who need it. They should be commended for their 'Buy a Bunch for the Hungry' summer food drive.

At a time of year when food donations are low and the need remains great, farmers markets in Forest Grove, Hillsboro, North Plains, Orenco, Tanasbourne, Aloha, Beaverton, Cedar Mill and Tigard are tapping into their popularity with folks who want to buy local.

They also are taking advantage of venders' abundant supply of high-quality produce and healthy food.

Through August, a dozen markets will take a turn asking shoppers to join the effort and collect donations of fresh produce and canned food to be distributed to families in Washington County by the Tualatin Valley Gleaners.

Ginger Rapport, market master for the Beaverton Farmers Market, came up with the idea for the food drive during last year's market season after noticing a growing trend in the number of shoppers using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to purchase food from market vendors.

She enlisted other market managers to raise awareness about the important work of the Tualatin Valley Gleaners and of the tremendous need in our communities.

Market vendors and community partners supported the idea of working collaboratively to make a difference in people's lives. As Rapport says, 'There is greater power when we work collectively rather than individually.'

So should you.

This food drive, which comes to Forest Grove next week, is a healthy start for the Washington County community to come together to assist in tackling the hunger issue. Here's what you do:

Before leaving your home for the farmers market, fill the cloth bags and wagons that you will take to the market with items from your pantry. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables from the market, the Tualatin Valley Gleaners will also accept canned, bagged or boxed food; pet food; personal toiletry supplies; condiments; and protein sources such as canned tuna, chicken and other meats.

Drop off your donations at the collection booth, and then shop for yourself and a neighbor in need.

You Help the hungry When You visit these markets

•Hillsboro Tuality Market: 8/4

•Hillsboro Downtown Market: 8/6

•Forest Grove Farmers Market: 8/10

•North Plains Farmers Market: 8/13

•Aloha Farmers Market: 8/20

•Cedar Mill Farmers Market: 8/20

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