LYNNWOOD, Wash., September 29, 2023—Four former Seattle Seahawks, who took the team to a Super Bowl 48 Championship for the 2013 season against the Denver Broncos, donated their time on Saturday, September 23, for the Back to Action campaign at the Lynnwood Food Bank. The campaign is to raise awareness and increase volunteerism at food banks across Washington.
The Back to Action campaign partners up Northwest Harvest, Safeway, the Washington Food Coalition, Vault89 Strategies, the Seattle Seahawks, and King5 with the goal to sign up 3,000 or more food bank volunteers for Hunger Resource Organizations across the state before December 31.
The athletes included Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Red Bryant, long snapper Clint Gresham, guard Paul McQuistan, and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane who spent the day touring the site and learning the food bank’s critical need for both volunteers and resources before slapping on gloves and participating in a bulk food competition, scooping oats and rice into 3-4 cup bags for easy distribution to families.
Annually, the Lynnwood Food Bank, located at 5320 176th Street Southwest, collects and distributes over a million pounds of food per year, serving an average of 3,000 households (or 10,500 individuals) a month for the 2023 fiscal year (July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023) —a 50% increase in need from the previous fiscal year.
To continue providing this valuable service to the community, the Lynnwood Food Bank need volunteers to collect, sort, safety check, and distribute groceries. They also need people that speak multiple languages, who are willing to do intakes and work in on the database (data entry), work on special projects like cooking demonstrations and more. The distribution days of Wednesday and Friday are the Lynnwood Food Bank’s busiest days when extra hands are needed most.
“Lynnwood Food Bank serves a multicultural community with a diverse group of volunteers,” Alissa Jones, Executive Director, Lynnwood Food Bank told the Lynnwood Times. “We welcome a variety of cultures, languages, backgrounds, LGBTQ+ and truly enjoy our diverse volunteer community. In addition to hard work, we also grow as friends and have fun while working together. We are a community serving our own community and we hope you’ll join us in making a difference in Lynnwood and South Snohomish County.”
Roughly 9.6 million workers in the U.S. lost their jobs during the first few quarters of the COVID pandemic, according to Pew Research, leaving many scrambling to make ends meet. With inflation rising, it only gives more importance to the work the Food Bank does, making a dent in the roughly 38 million people in the country who are food insecure.
“The honest truth is, for all of us, food is a little bit of a challenge coming in, in terms of donation,” said Casey Davis, Executive Director for the Edmonds Food Bank.
While the region’s different food banks are in desperate need of volunteers in all areas, Davis emphasized a need for drivers and those with computer expertise above all else. Volunteers ranged in age all the way to 90. They can begin as young as eight years old, accompanied by an adult, until the 8th grade, when they can volunteer on their own.
Terry, a seven-year volunteer at the Edmonds Food Bank, began driving trucks as a volunteer right after he retired from the seafood business. He works about 17-20 hours a week, driving down to Northwest Harvest in Auburn to pick up food then back to the distribution site in Smokey Point. He told the Lynnwood Times his favorite part about volunteering is the friends he’s met and encourages anyone to give volunteering a try because: “what do you got to lose?”
Another longtime volunteer, Melissa Bryan, has been volunteering at the Lynnwood Food Bank for three years. She first got involved with the food bank while volunteering at Homage when the pandemic first shut everything down and heard about the need for volunteers at her local food bank. She informed the Lynnwood Times her favorite part about volunteering is the people she works with and the relationships she’s made.
“People who choose to volunteer, and volunteer with friends, will volunteer for a lifetime,” said Davis.
Davis added that many volunteers form bonds and friendships with their fellow volunteers, going on to form book clubs, grabbing lunch, or at the very least have a safe space where they can go while adding value to the community.
“Every food bank is down in volunteers, I think every nonprofit is down in volunteers, which has been a trend since COVID,” said Gabrielle Catton, Volunteer Coordinator. “The volunteers haven’t bounced back. We are using less volunteers than we were in 2019.”
Edmonds Food Bank serves around 800 households a week and sometimes, during peak hours, up to 90 volunteers work at one time to meet demand. Lynnwood Food Bank and Edmonds Food Bank collectively served 30% of Snohomish County over the last five years.
“There is a cliff that people are headed toward with food insecurity – it’s not a gradual slide, it’s a cliff. One major thing can happen in someone’s life, and they can go from being food secure to food insecure. Covid happened, job losses happened, this economy happened where salaries are low but everything else is rising above it,” said Davis. “Volunteering, in some ways, is very much a privilege. If you have to get a second job you don’t have time to volunteer, or if you’re a senior you can no longer volunteer if you need a job because your social security can’t keep up with your income.”
As it stands, one in five Washingtonians rely on their local food bank to put food on the table.
Up north Arlington community food bank is also having similar challenges, Executive Director Carla Rankin informed the Lynnwood Times. During the pandemic, she explained, many people were making donations while being supported by federal and state programs. After the pandemic, however, much of that assistance halted. Currently the Arlington food bank is serving triple the households it was during the pandemic.
Nicole King, Senior Manager of Innovation Programs for Northwest Harvest, informed the Lynnwood Times she witnessed a 70-80% decrease in volunteers, from pre-Covid until now, yet an increase in food insecure individuals.
“It’s so important to have volunteers, not only for community building and meeting your neighbor, but thinking about access. Can we be open more hours, can we serve more people, can we offer more programs to meet people where they’re at. These literally cannot happen without volunteers,” said King.
In attendance at Saturday’s event was Lynnwood City Council Vice President Dr. Julieta Altamirano-Crosby. Before the bulk food packing event began, she took the floor to remind everyone the Lynnwood Food Bank will be hosting an upcoming charity event on October 15 called Food is Love, at Fogo de Chao near Lynnwood’s Alderwood shopping area. The event will include food, live music, and entertainment at $100 a ticket. Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward bolstering the food bank’s need for resources to better serve its community.
Sign up to volunteer at your local food bank to support the “Back to Action” campaign at https://backtoaction.team/. To volunteer at the Lynnwood Food Bank, call 425-745-1635 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To volunteer at the Edmonds Food Bank, call 425-778-5833 or email email@example.com.
Four former @Seahawks who took the team to winning the Super Bowl, donated their time on September 23, for the Back to Action campaign at the Lynnwood Food Bank. Link to article: https://t.co/ie5BPsagmA@lynnwood pic.twitter.com/R8lxCi6x4c
— Lynnwood Times (@LynnwoodTimes) September 30, 2023