Nourish Updates: 2018 Year-End Recap

2018 was a standout year for Nourish Pierce County. Nourish served 61,000 clients in need, meaning that 7% of the population of Pierce County received food from Nourish in 2018. This is an “unduplicated” number, meaning individuals are only counted once regardless of the number of times they received food from our food banks. On average, clients visited a Nourish food bank six times last year.

In addition, Nourish:

  • provided more than four million meals to people here in Pierce County
  • distributed six million pounds of food
  • volunteers contributed more than 83,000 hours of their time last year, equating to roughly 40 full-time staff people.

Last year, Nourish improved the way we work so we can better serve the community.

We purchased and built out a second mobile food bank truck. With our new truck, we started service at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Cedarcrest Middle School, increasing our mobile food bank sites from 10 to 12 last year. Now, the new mobile food bank is allowing us to partner with community and technical colleges. We have already launched service at many new sites in 2019.

Nourish installed a walk-in freezer and refrigerator at our warehouse, which allows us to store more food and be more strategic about bulk donations and food purchases, reducing our costs and improving what we can offer to people in need.

We also launched a food recovery program with Costco, thanks to our continued partnership with Food Lifeline. Once each day, we send a refrigerated truck, donated by United Way of Pierce County, to the Tacoma Costco store to collect food that Costco can no longer sell, but is still safe to eat. In the first five weeks alone, we received 30,000 lbs of donated food from Costco, including a large amount of fresh produce, one of our areas of greatest need. This program has expanded what we offer to our clients, helped us spend less on food purchases, and reduced food waste.

These are just a few examples of how Nourish improved how we worked in 2018 so that we can better serve people in need in Pierce County.

Everything Nourish did last year was the result of the generosity of this incredible community – your donations, gifts, grants, food drives, volunteer hours, and so much more. We are grateful to everyone who supported Nourish. You helped us help the members of our community in need. Thank you!

Nourish Donors: Top Food Drives of 2018

In 2018, more than 80 organizations, businesses and schools hosted a food drive to benefit Nourish. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support. Food drives help us add diversity to what we offer our clients. Since so much of the food we receive is in bulk, food drives allow us to add special or unique items to our food bank shelves. Usually food drives are paired with fund drives, and we receive a generous donation in addition to the collected food.

The top 10 groups donated nearly five tons of food to Nourish in 2018!

To organize your own food drive, visit our Food and Fund Drive page.

Nourish Volunteers: Sheila

Eleven years ago, Sheila first arrived at the Lakes Area Nourish Food Bank in Lakewood 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 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 makes 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.”

Join Sheila and visit our Volunteer page to sign up.

Get to Know a Nourish Food Bank – Edgewood

Edgewood is a small community in the valley of the Puyallup River, just south of the King County line, east of Fife and north of Puyallup.

Fifteen years ago, members of the Mountain View Lutheran Church in Edgewood reached out to Nourish, called FISH Food Banks of Pierce County at the time. The congregation saw a need for a food bank in their community, especially for the working poor.

Working in partnership with the church, Nourish opened the Edgewood Food Bank in April 2003 inside the pastor’s house on the church campus. After three years, the congregation decided that it was time to expand. The original building was razed and, in 2007, the church broke ground on a new building that had both community center space with meeting rooms and room for Nourish’s 4000 square-foot food bank.

Edgewood Food Bank Front Door

Nourish’s Edgewood Food Bank is downstairs from the Mountain View Community Center. The Community Center invites the food bank clients in to wait inside before they pick up their food. On Thursdays, the Community Center provides a free, community meal, so many food bank clients can have a meal at the same time they visit the food bank.  

As Edgewood and its nearby communities have changed, the number of visitors to the food bank have changed as well. In its first full year of operation, the food bank had about 9,000 client visits and distributed 76,000 pounds of food. Fifteen years later, in 2018, the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank distributed 1,158,685 pounds of food during more than 66,762 client visits.

The clientele has also changed over time. While there are still a significant number of individuals who are working who visit the food bank, the number of seniors and those with medical issues has greatly increased. The Edgewood location has also seen an increase in the diversity of languages and cultures in the clients who have visited in recent years.

Edgewood’s food bank manager, Kate, is the only staff person who works on site, so volunteers are essential to keeping it in operation. Kate estimates that it takes about 90 volunteers each month for the food bank to keep its doors open.

Before each service, Kate talks with her volunteers. She reminds her team, “this food bank does not run because of me, it’s all the volunteers who put in all these hours who keep this place running.”

A few years ago, Kate sat down and did a short interview about her role as the manager of the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank. Her message about how many people are hungry for meaning and community still resonates. 

To support the Edgewood Nourish Food Bank, sign up to volunteer or make a donation.