Green lunches to celebrate Earth Day in Walla Walla

Customers can order online or send in a check. Ordering deadline is April 15.

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WALLA WALLA -- When eating lunch becomes a way to be environmentally responsible and support a nonprofit organization, it's win-win.

Add in local fresh foods and free delivery and what do you get? A guilt-free and delicious dining experience, says the staff at Walla Walla's Sustainable Living Center.

The organization's new fundraiser is called Green Bag Lunches, which will be available on April 19 in celebration of this year's Earth Day.

Jenna Bicknell, executive director of Sustainable Living Center, said she decided to cook up the event as both an immediate way to raise money and to also create a signature fundraiser for long term.

"The former director of the (William A. Grant Water & Environmental Center) had done it years ago as a fundraiser. She said 'The easiest way to raise money is to just sell lunch.'"

It echoes the organization's mission better than a silent auction or grand gala, events that use a lot of resources to make happen, she said.

Instead Bicknell and her staff hope to accomplish good results in a more direct way to feed the center's needs. And little is more direct than feeding people, she said.

The lunches will be $10 each and delivered by an army of volunteers using bike power after the meals are prepared in the kitchen of the Whitehouse-Crawford on that Tuesday, a day the restaurant is closed to regular business.

Bicknell approached local farmers for help and was received with great enthusiasm and offers of help, she said.

The Green Bag Lunches will contain a turkey or chicken-based sandwich, "a really nice pesto aioli," perhaps a small cucumber salad, depending on what is coming up at the farms, Bicknell said. "Maybe we'll get some radishes. We want to do as much local as possible and all of that is a gamble."

Whatever cannot be procured from local providers will be filled in by purchase of natural foods that are as cost-effective as possible, Bicknell said.

The lunches will not include a drink -- "Those are the hardest to do locally. Everything except for wine and beer are from way out of the area and that increases the carbon footprint," she pointed out -- but will feature a cookie made from spelt, an ancient grain friendly to those with food sensitivities. The spelt flour is donated from an area organic grain grower.

Everything will be secured in eco-happy wrappings and delivered with biodegradable silverware, Bicknell added. "You can throw it into the compost pile and it will degrade."

The Sustainable Living Center has pegged selling 1,000 lunches as this year's goal.

The hope is that people will choose to enjoy the food together to celebrate Earth Day. A number of groups have expressed an intent to order the lunches, the director noted, and groups of 25 or more orders will get "props" on the agency's website, Bicknell said.

Customers can order online or send in a check. Ordering deadline is April 15. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are available.

For more information, call 524-5218. To order go to www.sustainablelivingcenter.com.

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