With memories of your warm holiday feast and leftovers crowding your refrigerator, take a moment to consider these sobering Washington state statistics.
1 in 8
- Washingtonians receive SNAP benefits (food stamps), half of whom are children.
1 in 10
- Washingtonians are food insecure, meaning they may not know where their next meal is coming from.
1 in 5
- military families are food insecure.
The need pervades practically every community in our state. That need was intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people experienced lost jobs coupled with a supply chain problem that left many store shelves bare.
And just as we began to emerge from the pandemic, record high inflation set in. Though prices for gasoline and other goods have dropped recently, food prices remain above last year’s.
Food Lifeline is a Seattle-based nonprofit that distributes food to 400 food banks and meal programs across Western Washington. In a Sunday Op-Ed, CEO Linda Nageotte noted that expiration of COVID relief programs has exacerbated food security challenges for individuals, food banks and programs. The agency is greatly redoubling efforts to rebuild inventory and secure more food sources.
All of this contributes to the current need for donations of food, money, pet food, personal hygiene supplies and volunteers at local food banks, according to Kathy Ulrich, development director at the Rainier Valley Food Bank, which makes home deliveries of food to 500 people each week.
At Rainier Valley, workers serve more than 10,000 people per month. In January they served 13,288 people. By November that number had shot up in to 18,482. That’s 18,482 adults, seniors and children – in your neighborhoods.
While government has a role in providing for those in need, local communities can combat hunger, which, by the way, exists year-round, not just during the holidays.
So, as you enjoy your leftovers from holiday meals with friends and family, consider making your New Year’s resolution a commitment to helping others. Here’s how:
- Volunteer any time of the year, not just during the holiday season when there’s a glut of thoughtful people, like you, wanting to serve. There are more than two dozen food banks in the Seattle area to choose from.
- Instead of giving a financial gift at the end of the year, make a monthly donation, either through your workplace giving program or on a local food bank website.
- Giving can be personally fulfilling. Teach and encourage children to share beyond just with their friends and siblings, but with those they don’t know who have less than they do.
- Donate pet food or hygiene supplies, menstruation supplies, dental hygiene supplies, diapers and formula.
- For gardeners or farmers, share your bounty. Many food banks accept fresh produce as well as canned goods.
Remember our neighbors year-round.