The smell of the Duwamish River meeting the salty sea mixes with the scents of traditional Mexican food. On stage, Aztec dancers, adorned in spectacular bird feather head dresses, dance to the drumbeat that thumps throughout the Duwamish River Festival. Bernardo Serna and I sit in the shade, avoiding the harsh sunlight, under our Food Lifeline tent amongst several other local organizations involved with the Duwamish River and its surrounding communities. We’ve set up a table with sheets and sheets covering all our hunger relief programs and volunteer opportunities.
The fumes of diesel exhaust and the throaty, gargling hum of nearly ancient engines overwhelms the senses. The sky is slate grey, casting a harsh light that makes the colors of the hundreds of classic British cars pop, as if the paint was made to look its best on overcast days. The cars are every make and model from British automotive history, including Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, and Minis.
The work of Food Lifeline relies on the generous efforts of its huge network of volunteers. Without their consistent commitment to pack and sort the donated food that is delivered to our Hunger Solution Center, those struggling with food insecurity across the state would be in trouble. Since Food Lifeline only employs a few supervisors for all the volunteers that walk through our doors, volunteers who are inclined towards taking leadership positions or want to volunteer on a long term basis have the ability to do so.
Laughter fills the halls of Food Lifeline as dozens of bright eyed Microsoft interns take part in the process of sorting and packing food. Today, they’re just one small group of interns in a larger sea of helping hands that Microsoft is unleashing across the local area for their annual Day of Caring, a time where tens of thousands of employees, interns, and their families take time out of their schedules to give back to the community.
The announcement echoes through the gigantic Walmart, summoning the lead employee of each department to gather for a training presentation by Lauren Boling, a Food Lifeline Grocery Rescue representative. Food Lifeline’s Grocery Rescue program takes in over 18 million pounds of food each year, though the work it takes to reach that number often goes unnoticed. The backbone of Food Lifeline’s work is relationships, which is why face to face training sessions like Lauren’s are so crucial.
With the Grand Opening of our Hunger Solution Center completed, we invite you to leave your mark in our new space, permanently enshrining your contribution to the mission of ending hunger. Without the support of our generous donors, and the local community, Food Lifeline couldn’t tackle the issue of food insecurity in western Washington. Simply put, Food Lifeline would be nowhere without you. In this spirit of appreciation, we are ecstatic to offer the opportunity for donors to make their donation a physical part of the Hunger Solution Center.
With the Grand Opening of Food Lifeline’s Hunger Solution Center completed, we invite you to leave your mark in our new space, permanently enshrining your contribution to the mission of ending hunger. Without the support of our generous donors, and the local community, Food Lifeline couldn’t tackle the issue of food insecurity in western Washington. Simply put, Food Lifeline would be nowhere without you. In this spirit of appreciation, we are ecstatic to offer the opportunity for donors to make their donation a physical part of the Hunger Solution Center.
Chris Hartman and I are like explorers, on the search for the next big find. We peruse through the QFC and Safeway back rooms, letting out a whoop every time we discover a crate of food with the Food Lifeline label resting on top.
“It’s the thrill of the hunt,” says Chris, “and each time you find more food than expected, it’s like striking it rich! You can imagine all the extra people you’ll help feed”.
The sounds of lively classic rock echoes through the air of the lobby as wine glasses clink and smiles abound. The room hums with a rapturous energy as party goers dance to the rousing music as if nobody’s watching.
“It’s incredible to see this kind of turnout,” says Nate Pedigo, Grant Writer at Food Lifeline, “we couldn’t have had an event this big at our old place!”
Early in the morning, I set out on a food distribution run to the Bellingham Food Bank. Bellingham was hit hard by the recession, and many areas in the surrounding communities are considered ‘food deserts’. This leaves a large percentage of the population relying on food banks, and on the work of organizations like Food Lifeline, to reliably feed themselves and their families.
My partner today is veteran driver Bruce Baker, who tells me of his time in the Navy, and how that experience shapes his beliefs.