If I could tell you just one thing about the YWCA Central Area Food Bank, it would be this: The people who receive bags of groceries every week are deeply grateful.
Since the summer of 2020, after Covid-19 closed the Food Bank to walk-in traffic, my partner Pat and I have delivered bags of basic groceries every Wednesday to a low-income housing complex just south of Harborview Hospital. Most of the residents are immigrants from many countries. When the Food Bank began home deliveries, only three families in this building were receiving aid. Today it takes three drivers to haul 32 bags of groceries to 27 households. (Larger families with children get two bags.) This increase in the need for assistance has been true for food banks across the country.
When we arrive with our red wagon loaded with grocery bags, the lobby is full of people, mostly elderly women, waiting for their food. As they take their bags, they all say in perhaps the only English they know, “Thank you!”
One of the women we look forward to seeing is Nham, who is always smiling and cheerful. When she receives her food, she takes my hands, looks me in the eye, and says, “Thank you! Thank you very much!”
To all of you who drop money in the Hunger Basket on your way to communion, donate to the Hunger Basket online, or include a gift to the Hunger Basket when you make your annual stewardship pledge, I pass her words along to you:
“Thank you! Thank you very much!”
Nham with her food bag. She proudly told us
(translated through a staff member)
that she is 90 years old.
Epiphany and the YWCA Central Area Food Bank have a long partnership
Epiphany has provided fresh fruit and vegetables to the YWCA Food Bank since 2010. Nichelle Hilton, a former parishioner and then the YWCA’s Regional Resource Director, asked if the church could donate produce to include with some grocery staples she collected for residents at the YWCA’s Yesler Terrace apartments. With the increasing need for food assistance, the Food Bank expanded and moved to its present location at the YWCA Phyllis Wheatley Branch in Madrona. Epiphany continues to supplement the Food Bank’s produce stock when items are unavailable from suppliers such as Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline.
Before the pandemic, the Food Bank served 50 to 80 families, who could select available items when the doors opened on Wednesdays. Covid, of course, changed everything. The Food Bank now provides one or more bags of food to 315 households each week. A growing number of families pick up their food, but volunteers still deliver to 285 homes.
Jenny and Richard Cummins (above), Jill Marsden and Ros Bond, and Clip and Ellie Kniffin are some members of Epiphany who help deliver food each Wednesday.
Volunteers Dan and Paula and Food Bank Coordinator Megan are delighted to have a good supply of rice.
Your Hunger Basket giving makes it possible
Epiphany’s weekly Food Bank support is funded almost entirely through donations to the Hunger Basket. As produce costs continue to rise and more people ask for help, the food bills have gradually outpaced Hunger Basket donations. Parish generosity during the pandemic, however, has supplied some reserve funds that have so far covered the gap.
Every Wednesday morning, an Epiphany volunteer picks up the week’s order from MacPherson’s Fruit & Produce on Beacon Hill. (We get a good discount.) Costs vary widely, from zero (a week the Food Bank was closed) to almost $1000 (the bill for 900 pounds of broccoli, onions, and bananas). So far this year Epiphany has supplied 16,000 pounds of produce, about 9% of the more than 186,000 pounds of food distributed to date. Since April 2020, Epiphany has donated more than $85,000 in produce!
Key Numbers, January 1—June 30, 2023
Hunger Basket donations
Average weekly cost
Have a Heart funds also help the Food Bank
Because of your generosity this year at Have a Heart, the Food Bank received $5,000 for a motorized pallet jack. With leftover funds, they purchased 2000 pounds of rice and a supply of infant formula. In 2021, Have a Heart gifts bought a large commercial freezer and a storage shed.