Monday, October 15, 2018

National Food Bank Week spotlights needs to fight hunger

Nichole Garden
Food Assistance programs

Bins brimming with fresh produce at Hopelink in Kirkland. 
Food banks and pantries across Washington State aim to alleviate hunger locally, providing food for one in six Washingtonians to nourish themselves and their families. As the holiday season approaches, food pantries tend to see an influx of patrons hoping to fill their holiday tables with nutritious foods. 

National Food Bank Week, observed October 14-20 this year, is an opportune time to remember our neighbors in need. 

While the week was initially designated in May, emergency food providers began observing it in October to coincide with World Food Day on October 16. Established by the United Nations in 1979 and adopted by the United States in 1984, World Food Day aims to raise awareness of hunger around the world.

While the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Food Assistance programs provide commodity foods and some funding to help support the hunger relief efforts across our state, community donations and contributions are still vital to keeping the lights on and the shelves full.

Below is a list of suggested ways you could help observe this week and celebrate the individuals and organizations that provide hunger relief.

Donate Food

Food banks are always looking to their communities for food donations. Some of the most requested items include:

  • High-protein foods such as canned chili, peanut butter, beans, or canned meat.
  • Pasta, and macaroni and cheese.
  • Canned fruit and vegetables.
  • Soup.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables that store well in a refrigerator.
  • Baby food, baby cereal, and formula.
  • Nutritional drinks and shakes for seniors (Ensure, Boost, etc.).

Consider setting up a food donation box at your work, school, church, or other community group and deliver the collected items to your local food pantries.

Donate Money

While food is always a welcome donation, food pantries can use monetary donations to purchase in bulk at a discount or pay utility bills and other costs of running a food pantry.
Susan Curtis and Mary Downs keep the shelves stocked at the Community
Cupboard in Leavenworth. 


While some food pantries have paid staff, volunteers are the backbone of many food pantries. Food pantries have a variety of volunteer tasks such as food sorting, deliveries, gleaning, office support, facility and equipment maintenance, and food distribution.

Pledge to Grow-a-Row

More and more food pantries are encouraging donations of produce items for their patrons. WSDA is assisting with these efforts with their Farm to Food Pantry initiative, providing funding to food pantries to purchase produce directly from local farmers. 

You can help by growing extra crops in your home gardens. Food pantries are looking for a wide range of produce items from beets and berries to radishes and rutabagas. Check your local food bank website for requested items and how to donate.

Spread Awareness

Consider using social media to let your friends know why you appreciate food banks or why food security is important to you. End your post with #NationalFoodBankWeek. 

Thanks to the commitment of Washington’s emergency food assistance system, as well as the donations and volunteer aid of so many citizens, our robust partnership is working to alleviate hunger and provide healthy food options.