Break Bags Provide Food to Low-Income Families with Students

Break Bags Logo 1The Emergency Food Network and the St. Leo Food Connection are partnering on a new program – BREAK BAGS – that will provide low-income families with students in the Clover Park and Tacoma Public School Districts with food for the upcoming spring break.

Thousands of children in Pierce County School Districts rely on free and reduced-fee meals during the school day. When holiday weeks arrive, these kids often struggle to get enough

nutritious food at home.  The St. Leo Food Connection has been providing two-days worth of food for children in Tacoma and Lakewood schools every Friday through the school year since January 2008, but until now has not been able to provide larger bags of food for families over extended school breaks.

“We are often asked what we do for the extended school breaks.  Until now the answer has been nothing.  Partnering with the Emergency Food Network is allowing us to help bridge the nutrition gap that occurs when children are not able to access school meals,” said St. Leo Food Connection Director Kevin Glackin-Coley.

The Emergency Food Network is providing food for the program, and volunteers will be packing the Break Bags (donated by Schnitzer Steel) at their Lakewood warehouse on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 26th. Helen McGovern, Executive Director of the Emergency Food Network noted “there are so many wonderful organizations providing baskets during the holidays.  Our goal is to provide them with an opportunity to spread that same generosity out over the entire school year.  There will be a hands on activity for donors and the money that they may now be spending on one basket will provide food for an entire week for the same families.  Win-win!!”

The 500 bags will include fresh produce as well as shelf stable staples such as rice, pasta, beans and peanut butter and will be delivered by St. Leo Food Connection and Emergency Food Network volunteers to the partner schools for students to take home on March 28th.  Partner schools include 5 Clover Park (Lake Louise, Tillicum, Dower, Custer, Lochburn) and 7 Tacoma (McCarver, Blix, Roosevelt, Sheridan, Larchmont, Birney, and Lister) Public Schools.

The need for the program is highlighted by a 2013 report from the Children’s Alliance that estimates that 440,000 children in Washington, or 25%, live in households where there’s not enough food for everyone to eat.  The report also noted that hunger is growing more rapidly in Washington than in most other states.  Hungry children suffer from health problems such as unwanted weight loss, fatigue, headaches and frequent colds.  They are more likely to be ill and absent from school and typically cannot concentrate or do as well as others when they are at school.

Documentary on hunger to screen in Tacoma, Emergency Food Network to lead discussion


“A Place at the Table,” a powerful new documentary that investigates and proposes solutions to incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans, will be screening at The Grand Cinema from May 3-May 9, 2013.

Emergency Food Network and Immanuel Presbyterian Church are co-sponsoring a post-film discussion following the 4:20pm screening on Sunday May 5. The discussion will be led by Helen McGovern, Executive Director of Emergency Food Network, and will draw connections between the film and work being done to address hunger in Pierce County.

“The hunger-related challenges facing Tacoma/Pierce County are essentially the same as those being faced by communities all over the country,” says McGovern. “This film promises to invite audiences to join an important on-going conversation about local hunger and maximizing resources.”

Tickets are available at and more information about Emergency Food Network can be found at

Non-perishable and canned food donations will be accepted at each screening.

For More information about the “A Place at the Table” and please contact (253) 593-4474.

For more information about Emergency Food Network please contact (253) 584-1040.


CANCELLED: A Game of HORSE at Mother Earth Farm? Draft Horses take on PLU Hoops Team

CANCELLED due to the weather.

Draft Horse Plows to prepare Mother Earth Farm for planting.

What’s one of the first steps required to get 150,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce to local food banks? Plowing the soil, of course.

But who best to plow the soil, a team of draft horses, or a team of Lutes basketball players and their coaches?

We’ll tip off the growing season properly with a battle to determine which species is superior, the horse, or the college basketball player. Will the draft horses plow more ground, or will 13 Lutes and their coaches?

matty_20120407051On April 6 from 10am until 3pm, teams of drivers and plow horses from Hames & Tugs Draft Horse Club will compete against the PLU Lutes Basketball team to see which group can plow the most land at Mother Earth Farm. Their competition will have the added benefit of helping to ready the field for spring planting.

Emergency Food Network operates the 8-acre Orting farm, managed by staff member Canyon Little. This annual event exemplifies the spirit of the program. Mother Earth Farm grows more than 40 varieties of vegetables, as wells as fruit trees. Bees are kept on site to pollinate, and their honey is collected for distribution as well. Vegetables grown at Mother Earth Farm are harvested and delivered fresh to area food banks on the same day that it is harvested.

Attendees are encouraged to bring weather-appropriate clothing like boots, gloves, and raingear, a sack lunch, a camera, and chair to sit on. Be there to witness feats of strength and farming that will be talked about for generations!!

Emergency Food Network provides 14 million pounds of food to 67 food banks, meal sites, and shelters annually. An average of 115,000 clients visit feeding programs in Pierce County each month. Eighty percent of all emergency food distributed in Pierce County comes from EFN.

Directions to Mother Earth Farm

From I-5 north or south—Take Hwy. 512 (to Puyallup) and follow signs east to Highway 410 East (Yakima/Sumner) exit. Follow 410 to second Sumner exit (Valley Avenue/Orting-Highway 162); and turn right at stoplight at end of exit ramp (toward Orting). Drive approximately 1.9 miles (past Alderton and Spooner Farms) to 102nd. Look for gravel road on left—Mother Earth Farm sign will be at entrance to 102nd. Farm is at the end of the gravel road on the right. Look for the parking signs.

Mother Earth Farm
15208 102nd St E, Puyallup 98374

Click here to view the event page!

Vote for Mike Mowat of FISH Food Banks!

Vote for Mike Mowat to represent our state at the National Jefferson Awards in Washington D.C.

Click here to vote for Mike Mowat! Your vote combined with the judges’ vote will help determine which Jefferson Awards winner will represent Washington State at the national ceremony. You are only allowed one vote per person. Voting closes Monday, March 25, 2013 at midnight.

Mike knew there was a way to provide food assistance with dignity to low income neighborhoods that had limited or no access to a food bank. As a volunteer board member for FISH Food Banks of Pierce County, he knew the challenges that many families were facing and he wanted to find an innovative solution that did not require bricks and mortar, but could also serve people in an inside space to shield them from cold and rainy weather. After conducting research on different mobile food bank models, he realized that the best solution would be a moving van that was converted into a foodbank on wheels. In June 2011 Mike, with a cadre of volunteers, spent months converting the van with shelving, lights, heat, a freezer and a generator. Every day Mike stocks the food shelves to make sure they have enough food to distribute that evening and every Saturday he washes the trailer – he even drives the truck and trailer to each site. Currently this food bank is located in five different sites Monday through Friday. It is able to go where there are the greatest demands. He has fostered partnerships with three of the local school districts to host the food bank after school. Schools were chosen because they are located in neighborhoods, many in low income areas, and they have parking lots.


Pierce County READS

Pierce County Library System is bringing Paris to Pierce County this spring with its community one book program: Pierce County READS. Now through May 17, thousands of people will come together as a community and read copies of this year’s Pierce County READS’ book the New York Times best seller and award-winning “The Paris Wife,” by internationally known author Paula McLain.

Be a part of the largest free reading event in Pierce County: the sixth annual Pierce County READS, presented by Pierce County Library System and The News Tribune and sponsored by KeyBank Foundation and Pierce County Library Foundation.

“The Paris Wife” gives an intriguing account of one of the world’s greatest authors, Ernest Hemingway, seen through the eyes of his first wife, Hadley Richardson. This book has been very hot on the best-seller’s list, and with significant social media chatter, it soared and stayed at the top of the list. “The Paris Wife” garnered the Winner for Best Historical Fiction in the Goodreads Choice Awards, which is the only major book award that readers decide.

During the Pierce County READS program people may participate in events where they may learn how to write and get their book published, plan their trip to Paris, and make art deco jewelry.

In addition to the many hands-on activities, Pierce County READS will feature other authors including: author and Professor Ann Putnam who will discuss the role of women in Hemingway’s life and works at King’s Books, Thursday, May 2, 7 p.m.; Kathleen Flinn, an award-winning author of two memoirs with recipes, who will inspire listeners to participate in her passion for home cooking at University Place Pierce County Library, Thursday, May 16, 7 p.m.; and Gregg Olsen, a New York Times best-selling author, who will talk about how he researches and writes about the lives of others at Pierce College Puyallup, Friday, May 17, 12 p.m.

People may meet Paula McLain at a free event and book signing at McGavick Conference Center @ Clover Park Technical College, in Lakewood, Friday, May 17, 2013, 7 p.m. She will speak and sign books.

Twenty community partners participate in Pierce County READS: Associated Ministries, Barnes & Noble, Clover Park Technical College, Emergency Food Network, Garfield Book Company, The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Joint Base Lewis McChord Libraries, King’s Books, Lakewood Arts Commission, Lakewood Historical Society and History Museum, Mostly Books, Pacific Lutheran University, Pierce College Puyallup, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, Puyallup Public Library, Roy Public Library, Sumner Arts Commission, Tacoma Art Museum, and University of Puget Sound. Seventeen cities and towns and Pierce County are also signing proclamations for Pierce County READS.

Pierce County READS @ search site: READS