Get to Know a Nourish Food Bank: Mobile at Mary Bridge Children’s Health Center

When you check in at MultiCare’s Mary Bridge Children’s Health Center, one of the questions you will be asked is how often you worry about your family having enough to eat.  Motivated by the results of those check-in surveys, Jamie Kautz picked up the phone and called Nourish.

Jamie, Pediatric Care Continuum Director, and her colleague, the hospital’s previous chief medical officer, came to Nourish and explained the problem. Their patients were facing food insecurity and  hunger, for people who are sick, has an even larger impact. Jamie explained, “If you have a chronic disease and poor nutrition, you will only get sicker.”

Sue Potter, Nourish’s Executive Director, shared pictures of Nourish’s mobile food bank and described the program. “We signed up on the spot.” Jamie said.

Nourish launched our mobile food bank site at Mary Bridge Children’s Health Center in September 2018. Located directly on the hospital campus in central Tacoma, it is easily accessible for patients and their families, as well as the community.

“Thanks to the relationship with Nourish, we can point them to a concrete solution to the immediate problem they are facing.” Jamie explained that some patients have started to reschedule their appointments so they can be at the hospital on the same day as the food bank. “The doctors can turn to the client and say ‘I can literally walk you right outside and get you something to help.’” Jamie said.

“After 7 years of operating one mobile unit, we were finally able to expand to add a second mobile food bank last year. It was fantastic to launch the new truck by serving at Mary Bridge. We know that hunger and health are linked and this site helps patients address both at the same time and place.” Sue said.

Nourish’s mobile food banks are full-service food banks on wheels. They provide clients with the same amount of food as if they visited one of our fixed location food banks and they use the same self-select service model. Nourish currently has seventeen mobile food bank sites around Pierce County.

To support Nourish and our mobile food banks, make a donation or sign up to volunteer.

Nourish Donors: Safeway and Albertsons Stores

If you shopped at a Safeway or Albertsons last fall, your cashier might have asked whether you want to donate a bag of food to fight hunger. Thank you to all of you who said yes!

Safeway and Albertsons corporate offices collected all the donated funds together and used their bulk purchasing power to buy essentials for food banks. In coordination with our partners at Northwest Harvest, Safeway and Albertsons delivered this food to our warehouse so we can get it into the hands of people in need.

Safeway and Albertsons donation at the Nourish warehouse

The picture above shows Kevin, a local Safeway store manager, and Kate, the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank manager, at Nourish’s warehouse.

Thanks to all of your donations, Nourish received 117 pallets of food in January. The shipment was full of food bank staples like peaches, beef stew, canned vegetables, peanut butter and canned ham.

Nourish clients will see these items show up on the shelf in the coming months. The 117 pallets we received will have an enormous impact to help keep our food bank shelves stocked this year. Last year, Nourish shared six million pounds of food with our neighbors in need, so these pallets represent about 5% of what we distribute in a year.

“Grocery store partnerships are an integral part of the way Nourish receives food.” Mark, Nourish’s Director of Operations said. “Large donations like this help us keep food banks full and ready for people who need us. Bulk donations allow us to be more efficient with the limited food purchasing funding we have, so we can save it for when a critical need arises.”

Thank you to Safeway and Albertsons stores and also thank you to everyone who donated at the register last fall!

Nourishing our Neighbors: Lisa

Lisa has been visiting the Southeast Tacoma Nourish Food Bank for the last five or six months.

She and her husband care for two of their aging parents, who have moved in with them. “There are four of us here now. Things are tight but we are trying to get through it.” One of their parents has a long-term medical issue that requires frequent doctor visits, the other is suffering from dementia, Lisa explained.

Lisa cleans houses and she works whenever she can, but, she has lost a few clients recently and she has been busy taking her family members to medical appointments. Her husband works full-time building and repairing cell phone towers. She said they are trying to support everyone in the house on just one income. “It’s hard to make ends meet without the food bank.”

Experiences like Lisa’s, where a family member is caring for aging parents, is becoming more common. According to the Pew Research Center, one in seven adults provide unpaid care for other adults in their lives.

Lisa first found the food bank when a friend brought her to visit when she needed help. Now, she gives other people a ride when they need it, so they can get help too. “God put us on this earth to care for and help one another.” She says the food bank is truly helping people right now. “You are a true blessing to people.”

Nourish Volunteers: David

David started volunteering at the Lakes Area Nourish Food Bank when he was in high school. He was told that he needed community service hours to graduate and the school presented him a list of places to choose from. A family member had relied on a food bank in the past, so he picked the Lakewood based food bank from the list.

David did not stop when he completed his community service hours. Three years later, David is still volunteering. He keeps a regular schedule and volunteers three days each week.

David helps out in many ways. He works the check-in desk, greeting clients when they first arrive and keeps the shelves stocked with food. When the food bank is not open, he works with the grocery recovery team, helping to collect food from grocery stores that donate products to the food bank.

Through his interactions with the clients and other volunteers, David wants to improve himself.  “There are so many things to learn and know. I ask myself how do I do this and how can I do it better?”

He sees the value in what he does for the community. “The food bank gives people who are in a slump an opportunity. It is not only about food, but it also provides happiness. You come here and you feel happy. The people here want to give you what you need.” David says.

Join David and visit our Volunteer page to sign up.

Nourish Volunteers: Randy

The day I met Randy, it was his 69th birthday and just like every Thursday, he was at the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank, volunteering. “The older I get the more I want to be a part of the community,” he explained.

Ten years ago, on the day he retired, his mother sat him down and asked him what he was going to do with his time now. She reminded him that his father was involved in several civic organizations. She suggested he visit the food bank to see if they needed help.

It was an ideal match. A former mechanic at Boeing, Randy said “That’s what I do. I fix stuff. That next Thursday, I came here to the Edgewood food bank and I’ve been coming back every week ever since.”

Now, Randy brings his mechanic’s precision to his volunteering. He explained that they serve 60 people every hour at Edgewood. He’s proud of that and makes sure that people know how the process works before they begin.

Randy greets clients, invites them inside, and assigns them a number. When their number is called, they walk through the food bank aisles to collect their food. “People are so thankful. It’s a family atmosphere, and all the people thank you as they go through.”

Kate, the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank manager said that Randy brings compassion, dignity and respect to his volunteering. “Randy has a heart of gold. When he sees a need, he is right there with a solution. He is well loved by clients, volunteers and staff.” Kate shared a specific story about how Randy saw a need and helped to address it it. “He realized an automatic number system would be helpful for our clients, so he went out and bought one.” Kate said, “I am forever grateful Randy found his way to the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank and into our hearts.”

One of the other volunteers had brought a cake for Randy’s birthday. Before I left, Randy made sure I had a piece to take with me.

Join Randy and sign up to Volunteer.

To learn more about the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank, read our “Get to Know a Food Bank” feature on Edgewood.