LAKEWOOD — Emergency Food Network received an infusion of holiday funding from numerous local foundations at the close of 2010. Funds were used to purchase holiday-oriented foods such as whole chickens and traditional side dishes as well other staple food items that EFN regularly distributes to feeding programs throughout Pierce County.
The Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation provided $27,000 for holiday meals, and when added to $7,500 from the Ben B. Cheney foundation, allowed EFN to purchase thousands of whole chickens for $2.25 per bird. Along with other holiday-themed side dishes, meals were distributed directly to area food banks, shelters, and meal sites. The organization partners with Northwest Harvest and Coastal Harvest to find the best deals by the truckload.
A decline in food donations from regional distributors places a strain on EFN’s resourcing program, necessitating a recent emphasis on purchasing staple foods that local food banks can count on throughout the year.
Emergency Food Network received other gifts around the holidays, including $20,000 from the Babare Family Foundation, $5,000 from Wells Fargo, $5,000 from the William Kilworth Foundation, $10,000 from the Woodworth Family Foundation, $5,500 from the D.V. and Ida McEachern Charitable Trust, and $3,750 from the Bruce W. Gilpin Memorial Fund. EFN also received $15,000 from the Hendrix Foundation for Mother Earth Farm, an 8-acre organic farm in Orting that provides fresh produce for area food banks. The Transportation Club raised more than $19,000 for EFN this winter during their annual luncheon.
Additionally, Bank of America partnered with EFN and the Rescue Mission to provide holiday meals to community members seeking a hot turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. In addition to the $5,000 that B of A provided to support the program, over 20 bank employees volunteered to serve meals at the Rescue Mission.
Other supporters this holiday season include the Hyde Family Foundation, the Dimmer Family Foundation, the Neeb Family Foundation, Titus-Will Families Foundation, the Schoenfeld-Gardner Foundation, the Ayer Family Giving Fund, Puget Sound Energy, the Eureka Foundation, the PMA Foundation, and Weyerhauser’s “Making WAVES,” a program that recognizes local Weyerhauser employees who volunteer at local agencies.
“We are very grateful that so many foundations and individuals think of EFN during the holidays,” says Helen McGovern, EFN’s Executive Director. “These gifts are extremely helpful as our community is facing even greater demand for emergency food.” Pierce County food banks, meal sites, and shelters report a 43% increase in visits since 2008. McGovern stressed that food insecurity does not fade after the holidays and that there are opportunities to volunteer time and contribute financial support throughout the year.
A significant portion of end-of-the-year gifts to EFN go towards purchasing shipments of 8 staple nutritious items that EFN offers food banks and meal sites in quarterly installments throughout the year. By serving as a reliable source for beans, vegetables, fruit, protein items such as ground turkey, oats, pasta, rice, and soup, the entire emergency food system in Pierce County benefits from the stability offered. Food programs can then build around the staple shipments, augmenting these eight items with other food.
The organization’s increased emphasis on Food Purchasing capitalizes on EFN’s ability to leverage purchasing power to distribute $12 worth of food for every $1 donated. $100,000 supports nearly four weeks of food distribution throughout the county.
Over 140,000 individuals visit food banks in Pierce County each month. EFN resources, warehouses, and distributes over 80% of the food distributed by food banks in the county.
For information about the Emergency Food Network, to donate, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, visit www.efoodnet.org