Leading The Fight For Hungry People Statewide

Northwest Harvest leads the fight for hungry people statewide to have access to nutritious food while respecting their dignity and promoting good health. They aim to end hunger in Washington State by promoting equitable access for all in Washington.

The William E. Wockner Foundation’s grant to NW Harvest for general support funds helps keep them agile and able to meet changing conditions in the hunger relief space. This funding goes toward all agency activities that are crucial to meeting their goals. Our gift made it possible for NW Harvest to continue distributing food, expanding access to the most in need, advocating for a strong public safety net, and building the movement to end hunger.

This year, our funds were distributed over a number of projects and initiatives. NW Harvest’s strategic objectives focus on five pillars: Equitable Distribution, Access for All, Public Education & Policy, Movement Building, and Learning & Impact.

Equitable Distribution

  • Delivered more than 1 million COVID-19 Emergency Food Boxes to families in need in collaboration with WA State Dept of Agriculture (WSDA), Food Lifeline and Second Harvest, from April 2020 through the end of the calendar year. 
  • NWH starting in June helped lead the WSDA effort to identify large warehouse spaces for housing a statewide reserve of shelf-stable emergency food stocks, a first for Washington. 
  • Distributed an agency record in amount of food statewide: 67.79 million pounds, compared with a typical average year’s distribution of 30-32 million pounds. 

Access for All

  • Expanded NWH network to meet emergency food needs, by adding services to 50 community-based organizations who serve immigrant groups, transitional housing, faith communities, shelters and clinics, above and beyond their existing Hunger Response Network of 380 food banks and meal programs statewide. 
  • Piloted a cash-equivalent program that with major corporate support and 10 partner BIPOC-led organizations, distributed grocery gift cards to hundreds of rural & BIPOC households, enabling them to access greater food variety and support small or local markets in their communities. 
  • Improved food access for homeless persons and encampments, thanks to our SODO Community Market team and United Way’s REACH joining up to distribute ready-to-eat or easily prepared foods.  

Public Policy

  • Secured multiple legislative successes in Washington State despite limited access due to the pandemic: (1) Community Eligibility meals status for more schools; (2) more matching dollars for SNAP (food stamps) and SNAP’s Fruit & Vegetable Initiative; (3) formalizied the State Food Policy Forum, long sought by hunger, agriculture, business and conservation advocates; (4) new funding for food bank cold storage; (5) ensured that child nutrition supports were included in the first federal COVID-19 relief package. 

Building A Movement

  • Reorganized our Volunteer Program per recommendations of a year-long cross-departmental team study that situated volunteer coordinators and liaisons in Advancement rather than Operations. 
  • Strengthened the State’s emergency food system, by agreeing to serve as one of Washington State Department of Agriculture’s four Nonprofit Hunger Relief Partners, with Harvest Against Hunger, WA Food Coalition and Feeding Washington. 
  • Completed a multi-year website redesign with a major investment in advocacy, aiming to empower the public toward influencing support for nutrition access and other safety net programs. 
  • Expanded NWH major gifts capacity and knowledge, positioning the organization for increased, proactive fundraising and communication efforts.

Learning & Impact

  • Recruited Community Advocates in target communities, and hosted monthly coordination calls to help organize community-driven solutions to food access outside the hunger relief system. 

Photos courtesy of Northwest Harvest