Columbia Fresh Produce, Inc., a fresh fruit and vegetable shipper based in Walla Walla, Washington, was one of five companies that recently received a Medallion Award from the Washington Secretary of State in recognition of their civic engagement and commitment to giving back to the community.
Columbia Fresh, which has just six staff, was honored alongside Weyerhaeuser, IKEA, Town Auto Group, and McClain Insurance Services.
Columbia Fresh has partnered financially with the Salvation Army in a pilot program to build a new community food bank in Walla Walla that will have a free-choice pantry, where clients can choose items in a grocery-store-like setting, and a demonstration kitchen, where they can learn about nutrition and basic cooking skills.
Dewight Hall, chief executive officer of Columbia Fresh, founded the business 11 years ago, selling Washington apples. It now ships all types of fresh produce from across the country.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in international business from Washington State University, Hall began his career at Broetje Orchards at Prescott, Washington. In 1999, he went to work as a broker for West Coast Apple Sales. He launched Columbia Fresh Produce in 2002 and has expanded the business to include a cherry growing operation, Cherry Ridge Farms, and a trucking arm, Columbia Fresh Transportation Services.
In addition to partnering with the Salvation Army, Columbia Fresh supports 4-H and Future Farmers of America, and invests in no-profit organizations in Walla Walla that focus on family, youth, and developing future leaders.
Other staff members at Columbia Fresh include Brad Gentry, Sue Freyer, Alison Bruggeman, Julie Sievertsen, and Jay Babbitt.
For more information about the awards, check the Secretary of State’s blog.