For the March Agency Spotlight, we want to highlight the exciting new programs at the Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank. Located at the heart of downtown Seattle’s most famous market, the Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank (PMSCFB) serves their community with dignity and determination. Their mission connects downtown seniors with a vibrant resource for food security and social programs while also serving visitors of any age with free groceries – all “to promote healthier, more self-sufficient and fulfilling lives.”
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t slowed down activity at PMSCFB at all – in fact, their current distribution is three-tiered to meet a variety of needs: outdoor grocery distribution, no-cook meal pickup, and a delivery program to serve those who can’t make it in person. Pike Market’s delivery program has grown the most since the beginning of the pandemic to become an essential service that will likely continue long after restrictions are lifted. “Our population is better served by home delivery anyways,” says Angie Wood, Food Bank Manager at Pike Market. It reaches folks who might otherwise avoid distributions because of the virus, transportation issues, or mobility needs. “And it makes the lines shorter and better overall,” notes Angie, so that visitors who come to in-person distributions can worry less about wait times and exposure. A new partnership with United Way and DoorDash has streamlined deliveries by helping Pike Market focus on ordering and preparing food while coordinated drivers take care of dropping off the groceries. “It filled our transportation and coordination need, which is really an insight into food banks.”
Amid all their new programs, PMSCFB has kept guest choice at the front of every food distribution style. “When the stay at home order started, we thought that the only safe way to do things was pre-packed groceries,” says Angie. But Pike Market’s dedicated regular visitors noticed the disruption to their preferred foods. So, staff at PMSCFB adapted to start offering an assembly-line of choices to food bank visitors. Now, they work to prepare a weekly menu for both in-person distributions and their delivery customers. “It’s about streamlining things for staff and clients while also allowing for changes,” says Elli, Pike Market’s Delivery Program Coordinator. And both in-person and delivery visitors get a variety of shelf staples, meat options, and fresh produce.