Mobilizing the Emergency Food System in Pierce County

The most effective way to address issues within a community is to work together. That is exactly what happened when Emergency Food Network and other community leaders met with United Way of Pierce County in early 2015. By engaging in dialogue in the same room, we were able to identify the gaps in our food system that could be filled through teamwork. It quickly became clear that sharing resources and collaborating could bring all of Pierce County to a better place.

In June 2015, United Way of Pierce County invested $147,403.35 to help Emergency Food Network purchase three refrigerated vans complete with insurance. So far, these vans have been shared by Emergency Food Network, St. Leo’s Food Connection, and Peninsula Community Foundation to mobilize healthy food around the county. By sharing the vans, each organization is able to meet more transportation and food preservation needs without incurring the entire cost of one of these vans on its own.Refrigerated Van

Drop-off Sites in Key Peninsula
On Key Peninsula, public transportation and car ownership are hard to come by and it is hard for many community members to travel to a centralized location to pick up food. The refrigerated van helps Peninsula Community Foundation bring healthy food to the people in need. Without the refrigerated van, transporting healthy and fresh foods would not be possible.

Saving Time, Money, and the Environment
Emergency Food Network picks up semi-trucks full of staple foods on a weekly basis. However, it is not always easy and practical to pick up smaller loads of food using a semi-truck. By using the refrigerated vans, EFN is able to increase the amount of donated perishable food we pick up, save money on gas and reduce the impact on the environment.

Summer Meals
Thousands of children in Pierce County rely on free or reduce price lunches at school every day. However, when school is out for summer break St. Leo’s Food Connection steps in to fill the gap, providing summer meals to children in need. During the rest of the year, they use the van as part of their mobile food bank transporting fresh foods in a safe manner.

Filling Stomachs, Not Landfills
With the purchase of the refrigerated vans, Emergency Food Network has also been able to design a program in partnership with the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department to rescue prepared foods from businesses and institutions and deliver them to hot meal sites around the county. Hospitals, universities, casinos, and other large food preparers tend to throw away excess food that they are not able to serve, contributing to the huge percentage of food waste that gets sent to landfills. Now, EFN is working to pick up this food and deliver to the places where people need it most. Not only is this eliminating food waste, but it is also increasing the amount of food available for hot meal sites to serve.

Thank you to United Way of Pierce County for investing in Pierce County’s emergency food system.

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