The Greenwood Food Bank, operated by the Volunteers of America, got a shock when it received its response to their annual application for funding City of Seattle: Zero Dollars.
While the City didn’t explain exactly why their annual funding of $53,000 was denied this year, their new competitive bidding process, which ranks agencies based on cost and impact, sounds like it worked against VOA. The Seattle Times quotes Mark Johnson of the VOA as saying that the agency’s mortgage payments on the Foodbank property may have hurt them in this process by inflating the cost per person served.
Regardless why, the lack of funding meant that as of March 31st, the VOA’s Greenwood Food Bank closed its doors forever, and the property is being put up for sale. The various food banks and resources centers around Seattle have carefully divided the map to ensure that people in need in every area have a place to go, and so the collapse of the Greenwood Food Bank left many in that area without a source of basic nutrition.
Fortunately for the hundreds of people who came to rely on the Greenwood resource, Wallingford-based FamilyWorks has stepped in, teaming up with The Salvation Army Seattle Temple to open the new Greenwood Food Resource Center.
Their joint press release explains:
The Greenwood Food Resource Center will serve area families and individuals every Wednesday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Salvation Army is providing space, staffing and volunteers at their location at 9501 Greenwood Ave North. FamilyWorks … will supply the food and staff for operations.
“FamilyWorks is pleased to be able to extend our healthy food distribution to our neighbors to the north in this partnership with the Salvation Army,” said Jake Weber, executive director of FamilyWorks. “We look forward to getting to know the Greenwood community and invite you to join us in nourishing our most vulnerable neighbors!”
“The Salvation Army stands ready to offer assistance to the community whenever the need arises,” stated Major Rob Reardon, corps officer of The Salvation Army Seattle Temple. “It was our automatic response to step forward and expand our services to the Greenwood community when we learned of the Greenwood Foodbank closure. We are excited to work side by side with FamilyWorks in this new partnership to help our community.”
I was honored to join the board at FamilyWorks recently, so I got to see the hair-pulling and number-crunching that went into deciding whether they could effectively expand their reach and responsibilities. Today, they serve over 2,000 households making over 30,000 visits to their Wallingford food bank each year. But the notion of unemployed seniors, newly arrived immigrants and the homeless showing up at the food bank doors for the ingredients for a meal and finding it shuttered was too much to contemplate.
The map at right shows exactly what’s being asked of FamilyWorks: the area marked in yellow is their previous service area. The area ringed in dark green is their new service area, seemingly double in size. I asked the FamilyWorks food bank manager, Mike Cox, what this new responsibility would entail.
“I’m estimating that we will likely see at least a 50% increase in the number of households served weekly,” he told me. “Currently, we serve about 450 households/week out of the Wallingford food bank. I’m expecting to add about 200 new households over the next few months at the Greenwood site.”
That’s a big step up for a little organization. I asked Jake and Mike what we could to help: as you can imagine, their most critical need is food. They get donations from grocery stores (including the Wallingford QFC and nearby Fred Meyer), but if you’d like to donate, you can bring food to the Salvation Army at 95th and Greenwood on Wednesdays from 9am-12pm or to FamilyWorks (1501 North 45th St) any day of the week.
And, of course, they could also use cash donations to support the cost of running the food bank and to make food purchases for key items that do not come in sufficient quantities through donations (e.g., items for their “cook free bags” for the homeless.)
Thanks to Jake, Mike and the whole FamilyWorks crew for fighting the good fight!