Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Van Tour 2011!

Last Monday, nearly 40 leaders in the Seattle emergency food world converged on a number of locations around the City for the Seattle Food Committee’s van tour. The annual event provides food bank directors a chance to step back, check out what other programs are doing, swap best practices, and have a little fun.

Everyone on!
In addition to visiting food banks this year, the group also checked out a meal program and related support services like the Crisis Clinic and WithinReach. Everyone piled into the van and hopefully came away with some helpful hints:

1st Stop: 2-1-1
Staff at King County’s 2-1-1 Community Information Line connects over 6,000 callers a month to a dizzying array of community and government services. Among them? Food assistance programs such as food banks and meal programs!

Michael shows everyone the PMSC kitchen
2nd Stop: Pike Market Senior Center
Michael Montgomery heads up the Senior Center’s meal program which just began serving breakfast in addition to lunch 7 days a week. That’s 14 meals a week!

3rd Stop: Downtown Food Bank
Located in the Public Market Parking Garage, Kevin Futhey and his volunteers have to pallet-jack food deliveries by hand down a steep hill and clients enter through a narrow ramp in the garage. But they make the most out of a challenging location and have even built several raised garden beds into the hillside right outside.

Raised beds outside the Downtown Food Bank

New barn, complete with HUGE walk-in freezer
4th Stop: The Food Bank @ St. Mary’s
Space can be an issue at St. Mary’s, one of the busiest food banks in the City, which served nearly 5,500 households in the month of July. Deep, the Operations Manager at St. Mary’s, has it all worked out with a new, vertically gifted “barn” to store food.

5th Stop: WithinReach
These guys do so much, it’s hard to keep track! The local experts in State benefits and nutrition resources, WithinReach operates 4 statewide hotlines and a fabulous resource website called

Food Security Manager, Claire Lane, gave everyone some homework:
  • Look up your food bank in their resource finder and check to make sure the info is accurate.
  • The whole group at WithinReach.
  • Visit the Professionals section of their website and order FREE materials for clients!
Thank you to everyone who came and a double thank you to everyone who hosted us this year!

Check out more pictures from the tour here or here.