SEATTLE – Lingering disruptions from the recent pandemic have resulted in a critical decline in volunteers at food banks throughout Washington state. The decrease in public involvement has challenged food distribution efforts at the exact moment when food insecurity across the state is growing, and more families and individuals are facing hunger.
In response to this concerning decline in volunteerism, a unique partnership has formed with the goal of boosting the number of people volunteering at local food banks. Under the campaign “Back To Action,” Northwest Harvest, Safeway, Washington Food Coalition, Vault89 Strategies, the Seattle Seahawks, and KING 5 have banded together to support the vital work of food banks throughout the state of Washington by sponsoring a drive to bring volunteers back to help in this crucial effort.
“The ongoing effects of the pandemic have created a crisis of food insecurity across the state,” said Josette Gonzales, volunteer program manager at Northwest Harvest. “While the need for food remains high, we are struggling to find volunteers to help distribute the food. We can supply enough food, but it will go to waste without the critical volunteer help we depend on to get it into the hands of those who need it most. This is a state with a tradition of community involvement, and I’m thrilled that organizations, private companies, and our iconic NFL team have joined with us to alert people to the need for volunteers. With their help, and the help of our communities around the state, we can end this volunteer shortage and work to end food insecurity.”
Background and Urgent Need
Washington State is not alone. Across the country, food banks have faced significant challenges in recruiting and retaining volunteers. This shortage comes at a time when demand on food banks is increasing. With rising food costs, the need for food bank services has been surging, intensifying the existing volunteer shortage.
Food security efforts are dependent on volunteers. According to data obtained by ABC News, volunteer rates for food banks have seen a massive decline, as high as 80% in some places. Volunteers are needed to repackage large, bulk donations of items, such as rice, into smaller, family-sized servings. They are also required for translation services, to help organize, sort, and store the intake of donations, to staff calling centers to organize donations, and, most importantly, to help distribute the food to those in need. In Washington, volunteers are needed to perform all of these jobs and more.
A Day of Service
The drive for more volunteers will kick off with a Back To Action Day of Service on September 23, 2023 and will run through December 31, 2023. The goal of the drive is to sign up 3,000 or more food bank volunteers for Hunger Resource Organizations across the state.
“We all have a role to play in making our communities stronger and healthier,” said Doug Baldwin, Jr, Vault89 CEO & Member of the Seahawks Super Bowl 48 Championship Team. “So many in the region came together to support our Super Bowl Championship team and now we are asking everyone to come together again to support those who have always been there for our communities – local food banks. Our local volunteerism can pay dividends in the near term while having a lasting impact for generations to come.”
During the September 23rd Day of Service kickoff event, members of the Seahawks Super Bowl 48 championship team will be joined by Seahawks staff to volunteer. The Seahawks will be celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Super Bowl 48 victory by recognizing the team during their home game on September 24.
Through volunteering, the Seahawks hope to inspire individuals to unite behind a common purpose of reinforcing the food banking ecosystem and set an example that volunteering to defeat food insecurity is a team sport.
“Serving our community is one of the Seahawks’ biggest priorities,” said Mario Bailey, Seahawks Vice President of Community Engagement and Legends. “We are proud to come together with Vault89 Strategies, Safeway, KING 5, Northwest Harvest, the Washington Food Coalition, and our other partner organizations on this vital call for volunteers to support our local food banks. We encourage all our fans to join us as we work to create greater food equity across our region.”
Sign up to volunteer at your local food bank to support the Back To Action campaign at backtoaction.co or use the QR code.
For volunteer details and inquiries, please contact:
Jaymee Espinueva, Vault89 – Jaymee@vault89.com
Jeanie Chunn, Northwest Harvest – firstname.lastname@example.org 206-255-4562
About Northwest Harvest: Northwest Harvest is an anti-racist, anti-oppression organization committed to transforming an unjust food system into one that is more responsive and accountable to the communities most impacted by discrimination. In addition to distributing food to over 400 partners throughout Washington State, Northwest Harvest aims to shift public opinion, as well as impact institutional policies and societal practices that perpetuate hunger, poverty, and disparities in our state.
About Albertsons Companies:
Albertsons Companies is a leading food and drug retailer in the United States. The company operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 20 well-known banners including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, and Carrs. Albertsons Cos. is committed to helping people across the country live better lives by making a meaningful difference, neighborhood by neighborhood. Since the beginning of the pandemic, along with the Albertsons Companies Foundation, the company gave over $100 million in food and financial support to help feed neighbors in their local communities.
About Seattle Seahawks:
The Seattle Seahawks joined the National Football League (NFL) in 1976 as an expansion team. The Seahawks have won 11 division titles and three conference championships. They are the only team to have played in both the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC) championship games. They have appeared in three Super Bowls, (Super Bowl XL, Super Bowl XLVIII and Super Bowl XLIX). The Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII to win their first title. The team plays at Lumen Field in downtown Seattle. Making an impact off the field has always been one of the organization’s top areas of focus. The club supports nearly 2,500 charities around the Pacific Northwest and beyond and uses its unique and powerful platform to support community programs around the region.
About Vault89 Strategies:
Vault89 Strategies is a strategic consulting firm that supports private, public, and nonprofit organizations in advancing their mission. Through innovative data-driven strategies and captivating storytelling, our team of experts will guide you on a transformative journey to actualize your vision, shape your brand identity, and fuel market growth. We are passionately committed to partnering with organizations that aspire to create a meaningful and positive impact on the world we inhabit.
About KING 5:
KING 5 Media Group is a multiplatform media company based in Seattle, WA. It includes NBC affiliate KING 5, independent station KONG-TV and multiple digital platforms, including king5.com. KING 5 was the first television station in the Pacific Northwest, founded in 1948 by Dorothy Bullitt, now owned by TEGNA Inc. (NYSE: TGNA), an innovative media company that serves the greater good of its communities. Today, KING 5 is the dominant media company in the region, delivering the largest local news audience and the most local programming across all screens. For more information, go to www.king5.com.
About Washington Food Coalition:
Launched in 1992, the Washington Food Coalition is a 501(c)(3) organization representing the collective voice of more than 300 hunger relief agencies from across the State. Made up of those working on the front lines of hunger – emergency food providers, distribution warehouses, meal programs, and small volunteer-operated food banks in both urban and rural communities – the WFC is determined to strengthen the State’s emergency food system and ensure that no one in Washington goes hungry.
– Back To Action