Fresh Food, Strong Roots: IRC and YMCA Collaborate for Healthier Communities

Last updated: August 4, 2023, at 10:20 a.m. PT

Originally published: August 1, 2023, at 1:41 p.m. PT

A collage of photos at the Matt Griffin YMCA, a healthy produce sign, fresh vegetables, and a graphic that states "Free Healthy Produce Distribution" from the IRC and YMCA

"Putting your hand in the soil when you have experienced traumatic incidents is a very good way of healing." - Sheryll Durrant, International Rescue Committee   

We're celebrating a fresh take on ensuring access to fresh food! Healthy food should not be a luxury. That's why we've partnered with the International Rescue Committees’ New Roots  – a mutual aid urban agriculture program. This program collaborates with refugees and immigrants so they can grow new roots and sustainable food for their communities. Community members gain access to eat and grow healthy, culturally relevant food. Plus, fresh produce leads to improved overall community health.   

New Roots' strengths-based approach empowers people who often have the necessary agricultural knowledge but do not have access to land. Participants work on small urban farms and share their expertise and skills. The New Roots program provides support through interpretation, technical support, and marketing. This support helps overcome barriers to retailing at local farmers' markets. All this effort leads to community growth, and the YMCA of Greater Seattle and IRC's New Roots share this goal.   

"Access to fresh, healthy produce is vital for all! The overall health of a community is impacted when its residents do not have the option to access and eat healthy, culturally significant foods. Through our food distribution pop-ups, community gardens, and Horseneck farm, IRC New Roots' goal is to increase the access to fresh produce to all our communities in South King County.", said Xavier Wurtelle Brissoli from International Rescue Committee  

This past June, the Matt Griffin Y community successfully launched a fresh produce distribution program with IRC. And will resume weekly on Mondays from August 14 through September 18 from 6:00-8:00 pm. The program uses a mixture of a foodbank/farmer’s market format. People can walk or drive up to the Matt Griffin Y parking lot to explore and shop at the organic produce stands provided by New Roots. No payment or identification is required, and no questions are asked. Shoppers are able to choose what they would like for their meals and walk away knowing they have fresh, healthy food for the week.  

At the Y, we believe that no one should go hungry. We have increased our hunger programs significantly since the beginning of the pandemic, and we've pivoted out in-school and community meal programs to reach the families who need them. From backpack meal programs, free lunches, food drives, and now this partnership with IRC New Roots, we hope to help create sustainable food access for all our families.  

After all, food connects us. And with this program, food becomes a vehicle for change.   

Want to get involved in our hunger programs? Support from our community organizations and volunteers helps keep initiatives like the IRC New Roots and YMCA of Greater Seattle organic foodbank/farmer’s market going. To get involved by volunteering, partnering, or sponsoring these efforts, please reach out to us at


Locations: Matt Griffin YMCA
Category: Community