Nutrition Access Report
This article was originally published in March 2021
Specific needs in our community are continually shifting, but some trends are clear: The demand for food resources such as food banks, meal programs and grocery delivery operations has risen with alarming speed over the past year.
The number of families in Washington state who cannot put three meals a day on the table nearly doubled over the course of the COVID pandemic, and up to one-third of Washington households are considered food insecure.
The emergency food system has had to find ways to feed dramatically more people with a much smaller volunteer base.
Working diligently toward this goal, organizations and their dedicated volunteers have stepped in to collaborate, support and innovate to supply food to those who need it most. One of PCC’s many partners in this work is Community Resource Network, an entirely volunteer-run organization picking up food donations each week from PCC’s Redmond, Kirkland and Issaquah stores. CRN distributes the food to communities who face high barriers to acquiring safe and healthy food, including isolated senior citizens, differently abled individuals, immigrant families and people experiencing immediate crisis. In 2020 alone they provided nearly 400,000 pounds of food from PCC to the community.
In March 2020, a CRN volunteer wrote PCC a letter about the challenges of the pandemic. “Planning for streamlined stocking and distribution is nearly impossible. Workers (employees for you, volunteers for us) are working overtime—distancing measures messing with the normal cadence. Other workers are compromised so schedules have been altered allowing them to continue serving while minimizing personal risk. Normal tributaries for distribution are suddenly closed so new trenches are forged to ensure the flow continues rather than grocery items ending in a wasteful heap. Thank you for trusting that we are operating above the normal capacity and networking North, South, East and West to find and meet the rapidly changing needs of our greater community.”
The organization’s volunteers stepped in to support larger food banks who were not able to operate as they had previously, creatively working with young people who wanted to support their communities and collaborating with other organizations who were quickly pivoting to address the growing rates of hunger. They, and many others like them, are still doing this work every single day.
None of us knew what to expect when CRN shared those experiences in 2020, and in many ways, we still cannot imagine what lies ahead even if we have reached a potential turning point. One thing that has become clear throughout this experience, however, is the power in our community. The strength and resilience to come together in times of great stress and uncertainty to care for one another. The compassion and empathy to continue to spend the days in the cold, rain and smoke making sure your neighbors have what they need to get to the next day. PCC is so honored to have partners like Community Resource Network and is committed to continuing to do all we can to provide healthy foods to all who need it.