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 Donors: South Sound 100 Women

Four times each year, 100 women gather together from across the southern Puget sound area. Every attendee drops their name in a hat on the way into the room. Four names are randomly drawn and those four women give short presentations about the nonprofit of their choice. After a question and answer session, the group votes and selects one nonprofit that the group will support. At the end, everyone in the room writes the chosen organization’s name on a $100 check, resulting in a large, collective donation to a single organization.

The South Sound 100 Women selected Nourish as their nonprofit to support for the first quarter of 2019.

“This is meant to be about the power of collective giving in our community.” Stacey Guadnola says. She helped to get the group started here in Tacoma based on models from other cities. The premise of the group is that individual small gifts can be joined together to make a significant, collective impact for one organization at a time.

Each individual selects the nonprofit that they want to present to the group. This is a benefit for organizations even if they are not selected as the recipient. Every attendee leaves knowing more about four new organizations who are making a positive change in the community.

Megan Leifson, a member of Nourish’s board of directors, had her name drawn at the January meeting. Megan says, “I selected Nourish as my charity because it is an organization that I believe in – as a member of the community and as a board member.  I have dedicated my career to food and making sure that everyone has access to nutritious food.”

The collective $10,700 donation to Nourish will have an incredible impact.

“Food does not just appear on our shelves.” Sue Potter, Nourish’s Executive Director, says. “These types of gifts are so important because they help us keep the lights on, gas in the trucks, and our refrigerators cold so we can safely get food into the hands of those who need it in Pierce County. We are grateful that this group of women selected us.”

South Sound 100 Women is always looking for more attendees who want to join. Visit their website for more information.

To make a donation to Nourish on your own, visit our Donate page.

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.

Get to Know a Nourish Food Bank: Graham-South Hill

Tucked behind the Holy Disciples Parish building off of 187th in Graham, it might be easy to miss the Graham-South Hill Nourish Food Bank.

“Many people in Graham, South Hill, Puyallup, they don’t know that we are here.” Julie, the Nourish food bank manager says. “If you’re having a hard time, come and visit the food bank. It can seem scary at first, but we’re here to help.”

The food bank has been helping people from this location since 2003. As part of their proposal to purchase the land years ago, the Holy Disciplines Parish committed to establish a food bank on site in addition to their regular offices.

Before the food bank settled in at the building owned by the parish, it moved every few years. Vern and Shirley Pierson, long-time parish members, helped to get a food bank started in the Graham area. “This food bank had about four different locations all over the Graham area before we moved in here.” Julie says.

In its current location, the food bank has its own building with large refrigerators and freezers, plus a separate storage building. Last year, the Graham-South Hill Nourish Food Bank distributed 794,000 pounds of food to people in need.

A community forms among the clients. “Clients watch out for each other.” Julie says. “They check in on each other. If the clients haven’t seen someone for a while, they will start to ask around to make sure people are ok. Sometimes we don’t see people because they got a job and don’t need our help anymore, but sometimes they don’t have transportation to get to the food bank. So, someone will give them a ride.”

The food bank is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but, work happens at the site every day of the week. “We could use more volunteers, even on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the days we restock.” Julie says. She said they especially need volunteers who can lift boxes to restock shelves as well as volunteers who help clients as they pick up food. “It takes at least 12 volunteers every day the food bank is open.”

Katie, Julie’s daughter, has been volunteering at the Graham-South Hill Nourish Food Bank for years. She recently graduated and continues to volunteer. She says, “I think sometimes young people don’t volunteer because they feel like they’re too busy with everything in their lives. But, we really need young people to come in and help too!”

To support the Graham-South Hill Nourish Food Bank, sign up to volunteer or make a donation.

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!