Monday, November 24, 2014

28th Annual Holiday Celebration: The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition

A Benefit for the Pike Market Senior Center 

& Food Bank

 When: Friday, December 5th from 6-8:30 pm

Where: Westlake Center & Downtown Seattle 

The biggest single musical holiday event of the season and a critical fundraiser for the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank, The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition kicks off the month of December with a wonderful evening of entertainment enjoyed by more than 9,000 spectators every year.

1,000 carolers and dozens of caroling teams sing their hearts out on downtown Seattle street corners and in and around Westlake Center beginning at 6 pm. The top caroling teams compete for crowd favor as well as prizes for the most donations raised, best choral performance, most creative team, and people’s choice. Those nominated compete in a sing-off on the Figgy Main Stage.

A Seattle holiday tradition, the Great Figgy Pudding is a zany, family-friendly and delightful holiday event for everyone. Caroling teams range the gamut from dancing lawyers, to costumed co-workers of Seattle landmark businesses to Von Trapp-like families.

Figgy Pudding is the primary fundraising event for the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank every year. Our organization has a focus on food access in Seattle’s downtown core, providing 650 families with groceries each week, and over 4,500 meals to seniors each month. Additionally, our senior center offers programs aimed at holistic senior health and wellness. There’s no better way to simultaneously give back and have fun this holiday season. Come and help us get Figgy with it!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The SNAP Lifeline

This blog has been reprinted courtesy of Jewish Family Service. For more information see:

SNAP. Basic Food. Food stamps. Whichever name you know it by, you know it as the lifeline for many families to get their basic food needs met. Starting this month, about 200,000 King County households will see drastic cuts to this vital resource by as much as $90 per month. These cuts will affect SNAP beneficiaries who have heating and cooling utility costs included in their rent or mortgage payments, making their families even more food insecure through the end of the year.

“Why is this happening?” you may be wondering. Good question. In February, Congress passed the 2014 Farm Bill, limiting options for states to provide utility assistance to households. Because SNAP benefits are calculated in part by how much utility assistance a household receives, an estimated one-third of Basic Food recipients will see a cut to their benefits.

The good news is Governor Jay Inslee opted to implement a new program that will put SNAP benefits back where they were. The bad news is it will not be implemented until January, leaving some families without the means to meet their basic food needs for two months.

Despite receiving notifications about these temporary cuts, we expect many families will be confused.

These substantial cuts to Basic Food benefits will force clients to have to make some tough choices, especially with winter and the holidays approaching. Some families may be forced to choose between having enough food for the month, or buying warm clothes and jackets for their kids. Many parents may not be able to afford to buy holiday gifts for their children. Many are likely to fall behind in their rent, and some parents will skip meals to make sure their kids get enough to eat.

As we’ve seen with previous SNAP cuts, the burden often falls on food banks to bridge the gap. Because of this sudden increased stress on food banks, food supply may run low and clients may not receive as much as they normally would.

SNAP is one of the most essential tools Americans living below the poverty line have to help feed their families. When SNAP comes under attack, so do our efforts to help people meet their basic food needs. When benefits are cut, families are cut off from the vital resources that allow them to put food on the table.

By Bailey Toth
Bailey Toth is a Lutheran Volunteer Corps member and is completing her year of service as the Food Bank Specialist in the Polack Food Bank. She graduated with her BS in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She is passionate about social justice, vegan cooking, reading, being active in the community and cats.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Food Bank Visits in Seattle on the Rise

Food Bank Visits in Seattle on the Rise

by Jana Lissiak, Jewish Family Service Food Bank Manager

The lines at the Jewish Family Service Polack Food Bank on Capitol Hill just keep getting longer. We are serving more people than ever before, but unfortunately we are not unique in Seattle. New luxury apartment buildings and trendy restaurants seem to be springing up all around, and by many accounts Seattle’s economy is beating national trends and continues to grow. But at a time when Seattle is booming, it seems the city’s prosperity is not reaching all of its residents, and some are clearly being left behind. Those not on the upper rungs of the economic ladder are falling further behind and must increasingly supplement their kitchens with help from the city’s food banks. Seattle food banks are not able to keep up with this intensifying demand. The average amount of food each household is actually able to receive per visit is decreasing.   

Between 2012 and 2013 food banks had to stretch to provide food for over 47,000 additional visits.  If the increasing demand seen in the first half of 2014 continues, food banks will need to provide for an additional 90,000 visits. This is on top of the already inflated 2013 service levels. 

Seattle’s food banks are working diligently to keep up with the growing lines, but our data shows that despite our best efforts, we are not keeping pace. The average amount of food given to each household during a visit has decreased by 20% since 2009. The average pounds per household distributed at each service decreased between 2009 and the first half 2014, from 31.3lbs to 24.9lbs.

November and December will likely be even more challenging this year. As many as one-third of SNAP participants will see a reduction in SNAP benefits of up to $90 per month as rules from the new Farm Bill are implemented. Luckily, for Washington State residents, this will only be a temporary reduction, but it will make this holiday season more challenging for many of the families we serve and will undoubtedly increase the lines at food banks even further.