FIFE, WA, UNITED STATES
Story by Joseph Siemandel
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive the need at food banks across the country, members of the Washington National Guard working alongside Emergency Food Network staff packed more than 8,000 food boxes last week for residents of Pierce County.
The week-long effort was a collaborative endeavor between Pierce County Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Emergency Food Network and the Washington National Guard. The food boxes will be distributed to residents who are participating in EFN’s Home Delivery Program.
“We are so incredibly grateful to both the National Guard and Pierce County Department of Emergency Management for this collaborative effort,” says EFN CEO Michelle Douglas. “These boxes will go to feed thousands of our hungry neighbors throughout the first quarter of 2021.
“We’ve seen a 40 percent increase in the need for food assistance and we are so excited to have this community support in feeding our neighbors.”
The Home Delivery Program serves more than 300 families each week, providing one-time and recurring deliveries of both shelf stable and fresh foods. Each emergency food box that was packed last week contained an assortment of shelf-stable foods ranging from chicken chili to canned vegetables and peanut butter. Each box weighs about 15 pounds and is combined with fresh produce for each delivery.
For some members of the Guard processing, packaging and distribution of food to the community has been part of their daily mission for nearly nine months.
“Our Guardsmen are grateful to be a part of this effort because we see the difference we are making in people’s lives,” said Capt. Kelly Meade, Officer-In-Charge of the Guard’s food bank mission in the south Puget Sound area. “What they are doing here with Emergency Food Network and Pierce County is important.”
Just last month members of the National Guard moved the Bonney Lake Food Bank across town to a large facility due to the increased need.
“I am always so impressed when I go to a food bank to check on how our teams are doing, they are so positive and engaged,” said Meade. “We work in 13 different locations in the south sound, doing anything and everything we can do to help the community.”
As of January 12, 2021 the Washington National Guard has taken part in the processing, packaging and distribution of more than 73 million pounds of food while supporting food banks across the state.