Until recently, I thought I had a good handle on all the links in the chain of multiple food providers in Washington state for those experiencing food insecurity due to loss of income, poverty or a disability. Now I have learned of another link called Food Lifeline.
Food Lifeline has been performing its vital functions since its founding in 1970 and covers the western part of our state. Its mission is to seek out possible sources of food donations, collect the food, prepare it for distribution, and deliver it to sites for the intended recipients. Among the locations which ultimately receive the food are more than 300 food banks, as well as shelters and sites which serve meals for those in need of prepared foods.
Every day, 97,000 meals are provided through these donations. A donation of cash, as little as $1, can provide food for four meals. The quantity of food donated in 2017 was about 40 million pounds, which otherwise would have gone to waste – ending up in landfills, generating gases into the atmosphere, and contributing to global warming.
Food Lifeline identifies the farms and factories where surplus food is available for donation and sends out a fleet of drivers to collect it and bring it back to its facility, a new building called The Hunger Solution Center. Staffed by over 100 employees, this building contains many ‘green’ features which contribute to a healthier environment for all of us – and it still has room to grow in the future.
At the warehouse, volunteers sort and package the food. By providing fresh produce and food supplies to over 300 food banks, shelters and meal programs throughout Western Washington, each day one can easily see why Food Lifeline is known as ‘the food bank’s food bank!’
It would not be able carry out its role and live up to this name, however, without the numerous volunteers behind the scene. Volunteers play a critical role in sorting and repacking the food each day. In 2017 they numbered over 13,000!
Pictured above are Christine and Tom, who have provided over 260 hours of service to Food Lifeline and have maintained their weekly volunteer commitment over the past year. In fact, they even celebrated their wedding anniversary volunteering for a session at Food Lifeline!
Christine and Tom believe that as retirees, volunteering helps to keep them engaged. “It is a great place to volunteer with a diverse group of people who are nice and fun to work with. We enjoy sorting and repacking fresh produce to help our community members who need it the most.”
As you can see, the functioning of Food Lifeline is extremely dependent on the work of volunteers. They come from all walks of life and are of all ages, including senior citizens whose participation is especially appreciated.
Currently, according to Volunteer Engagement Director, Renee DeRosier, especially needed are volunteers who can serve during weekdays assisting in the packaging and sorting of food items. Schedules are flexible and the registration process is quick and easy. It is a great way to spend part of your day and to help out in Food Lifeline’s “Hunger Doesn’t Have to Happen” movement.
Anyone interested in volunteering should contact RSVP at 206.694.6786 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) is a National Service program that engages people age 55 and older in a diverse range of volunteer activities. Sponsored locally by Solid Ground, we partner with 60 organizations, where we place RSVP volunteers to meet community needs. To get involved, contact us at email@example.com today!
- This piece by Anita Warmflash appeared in the Winter/Spring 2018 Experience in Action newsletter: Caring for one another as we age!
- Featured image at top: Tom & Christine, Food Lifeline volunteers