In January, Nourish’s mobile food bank began operations in Tacoma Housing Authority’s (THA) Salishan property. On the first day of service, the food bank hosted approximately 50 clients. Most had never visited a Nourish food bank. At all Nourish food distribution sites, clients select food for every member of their household. This means 163 people benefited from opening day at the Salishan site.
Trish Mozo, Education Services Program Specialist with THA expects this number will increase as word spreads among residents. “This will have a huge impact on the community. Many folks are in wheelchairs or don’t have cars or money for the bus. This will serve a real need.”
This is Nourish’s 19th Mobile Food Bank distribution site in addition to seven “brick and mortar” food bank locations. The Salishan site, located near the Salishan Family Investment Center at 1724 E. 44th St, Tacoma, operates Fridays, 1pm – 3pm.
From hosting donors at fundraising events, to helping to coordinate food drives with local organizations, or working with our more than 1,000 volunteers, nothing is more rewarding for those of us at Nourish than engaging community members in our mission of feeding our neighbors in need. That is why we are so excited to announce the launch of a new hands-on service project hosting area corporations, businesses and community groups participating in meal packaging events. Nourish has partnered with The Outreach Program to work with corporate and community volunteer groups to assemble dried non-perishable meals which are then distributed throughout our 26 food bank locations.
Based in Iowa, The Outreach Program is a nonprofit corporation which partners with organizations throughout the United States to host food packaging events. Meal packaging events engage people to give back to their community. Volunteers work together in an assembly line to create protein enriched meals such as pasta with tomato-basil sauce or Minestrone soup.
By partnering with The Outreach Program, Nourish has the opportunity to involve local organizations to join our mission to provide nutritious food for people in need in Pierce County. “The Outreach Program is a great way to engage volunteers in our work and to educate the community about food insecurity in our county,” explained Sue Potter, Executive Director, Nourish Pierce County.
The pre-packaged, dry food is an excellent option for Nourish food banks. Many of our customers walk or take the bus to the food bank. Because of the way The Outreach Program meals are packaged, they are easy to carry and transport regardless of age or physical ability. Additionally, because our mobile food banks serve five community and technical colleges in the area, many of these students have classes till late in the evening. Offering them frozen foods is not always an option if they can’t keep it refrigerated. The Outreach Program meals offer a great, delicious, shelf stable alternative. These meals are also easy to prepare.
“At our food banks, 32% of the people we serve are kids 18 and under. The Outreach Program meals can be made with just hot water, so if a child is old enough to boil water or use a microwave, they can eat.” – Sue Potter, Executive Director, Nourish Pierce County.
Sound Credit Union is a wonderful example of a local organization committed to giving back to the community. Making the most of a recent federal holiday when their branches are closed, a group of approximately 40 employees spent the afternoon at the Nourish warehouse packaging 1,500 meals.
“We had fun with it since we are a competitive group,” explained Jen Reed, VP Public Relations. “Each line of employees packing meals tried to keep up with the other, looking at ways we could be more efficient. It was a fun competition, connecting with one another while serving the community.”
Prior to volunteering at the Nourish warehouse, the group held a food drive, collecting more than 1,300 pounds of food. “We all really enjoyed it. I’m hearing back from the staff that they want to find more ways to engage in volunteer opportunities.“ said Reed.
Nourish asks for donations to offset the cost of materials needed for these meals. All packing events take place at the Nourish Warehouse and are hosted by awesome and energetic Nourish staff members. To schedule a Meal Packaging Event, call us at 253-383-3164.
According to Nonprofit Quarterly Magazine, the demographics of volunteers have changed over the last forty years. Specifically, volunteering has increased dramatically for certain age groups, particularly the oldest, aged sixty-five and over, and the youngest, aged sixteen to nineteen years old. At Nourish, we are fortunate to have 1,000 incredible volunteers of a variety of generations who regularly prove that caring about others has no age limit.
Kendal started volunteering at the Edgewood Food Bank two years ago when she was 16 years old because she wanted an extracurricular activity that would allow her to develop workplace skills before seeking a paying job. She takes on a variety of tasks, from assisting clients with their food, to stocking shelves, doing inventory, assisting with vendor transactions and answering phones.
However, she says what she enjoys most is making a difference in people’s lives, while they in turn make an impact on hers. “Volunteering at the food bank has inspired what I want to do with my life which is getting into social work. I’ve learned that I have a power with helping people in need and we need more people willing to help.”
But while volunteering can ignite one’s life passion, it can also help maintain one’s passion for life. Hazel, a volunteer at Nourish’s Food Bank at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Tacoma is a prime example. At 101 years old, she is an inspiration to everyone she meets. “I’m closer to 101 and a half,” Hazel insisted. A member of Bethlehem Church, Hazel has been volunteering for about ten years. She enjoys connecting with the clients, impressively walking backwards along the aisle way as she helps people select food. She also grows her own tomatoes which she shares with others.
Eleven years ago, Sheila first arrived at the Lakes Area Nourish food bank as a client. “I had a house, I had a business. I got sick and I lost everything.”
She experienced homelessness for about five months, until she got into an apartment. The food bank helped her get back on her feet.
“Even people who have jobs are just one step from being homeless. You never know what life is going to bring you.” She says. “Things are not for sure.”
Since that first visit to the food bank eleven years ago, Sheila has been coming back to volunteer. She now volunteers twice a week for a few hours each visit. She does a little bit of everything at the Lakewood based food bank, but she mostly helps with their small clothing bank there. She sorts donations and gets them organized for the clients.
“I can’t do too much physically, but volunteering made me feel better about myself.” She says. “It’s for my peace of mind that I am here.”
She volunteers to give back. “I don’t feel right just taking and it feels good to give back. It just gives me an opportunity to help others.”
Get into the holiday spirit as The Blue Mouse Theatre presents the beloved holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” to benefit Nourish Pierce County,Thursday, December 12, doors open at 6:00 pm. Santa will be on hand to greet guests and the Northwest Repertory Singers perform festive tunes celebrating the season. Tickets go on sale on Sunday, December 1 for $10. Tickets are available at the box office. Guests are also encouraged to bring a food donation for Nourish. The Blue Mouse is located at 2611 North Proctor in Tacoma. Visit https://bluemousetheatre.com/contact/ for directions and hours.
“It’s a Wonderful Life”, is a 1946 holiday favorite starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. Stewart portrays George Bailey, a frustrated businessman whose experience with an angel on Christmas Eve allows him to understand how important his lifelong good deeds have been to his Bedford Falls family and neighbors.