This month’s Program Partner Spotlight is devoted to centering the achievements and wide-reaching community impact of Mercy Housing Northwest. While there are eight Mercy Housing locations in Washington that partner with Food Lifeline to provide consistent and nutritious food access to their residents, Mercy Housing’s impact in the Pacific Northwest extends far beyond their partnership with Food Lifeline. Across Washington and Idaho, Mercy Housing Northwest owns and operates 55 properties that in total provide more than 6,700 families and seniors with affordable and sustainable housing. The Mercy Housing network believes that an individual’s right to high-quality and safe housing extends beyond their financial resources, and on-site resident services focus on developing educational and financial wellbeing, health and wellness, and community engagement.
Mercy Housing has partnered with Food Lifeline’s Mobile Food Program since April 2019, when Appian Way Apartments in Kent began distributing fresh fruits and vegetables to families and youth. Other Mercy Housing communities joined as Mobile Food Program partners during the COVID-19 pandemic to support residents in Seattle, Snohomish, Lynnwood, Bellingham, and Lake Stevens. Every month, Food Lifeline’s Mobile Food Program now helps Mercy Housing Northwest serve seven locations and more than 300 households. In April of this year, Mercy Housing’s partnered sites received a total of about 18,500 pounds of produce, canned goods, and assorted dry food items. Mercy Housing staff says this food has gone a long way toward making a difference for residents and easing some of the burdens during this pandemic.
For the last nine months, five Mercy Housing Northwest properties have also been partnering with Food Lifeline to utilize Feeding America grant funding aimed at increasing access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for tribal communities, farmworkers, and immigrant and refugee communities experiencing food insecurity. As Mercy Housing’s Resident Services Manager Lindsey Karas says, “On the first day of the Food Lifeline supported pantry, residents [of Sterling Meadows in Bellingham] went home with 3 full grocery bags and needed a second person from their household to help bring all the food home… the Food Pantry has turned into a place where every resident can come get what they need each week for their families.”