The Emergency Food Assistance Program
Federally funded program providing food and limited operational funding to emergency food providers and meal programs, to supplement diets of lower-income Washingtonians and those experiencing homelessness. Established in Washington in 1981 and serves about 550,000 people each month . In accordance with USDA policy, this institution is an equal opportunity provider.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program In
Charitable programs are unable to fully support those facing hunger. The combination of charity and government assistance programs are necessary to help bridge the meal gap.
SNAP, formerly food stamps, provides temporary help for people going through hard times providing supplemental money to buy food until they can get back on their feet.
People Without Shelter Or Who Have Low Incomes
Food pantries and hunger relief organizations are an essential part of the food supply chain and may remain open and operational during this coronavirus crisis.
- Find information about food pantries in your area on the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s food assistance webpage and on the Washington 211 website.
- Washington 211 also provides information on locations that provide free meals, commonly known as “soup kitchens.” Be sure to contact the facility before arriving to confirm if and how they are operating.
- In Western Washington, find a Food Lifeline partner in your area.
- Washington Connection offers a fast and easy way for families and individuals to apply for a variety of services such as cash, child care, long-term care, and Medicare Savings Programs. Individuals that are age 65 or older, blind or disabled may also apply for medical assistance.
Basic food benefit cards
Basic food benefit cards can be used to buy food and are available for a range of people. U.S. citizens can apply for this benefit on the Basic Food page at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
- Note: The federal government suspended a work requirement that applied to some adults during this crisis. However, the federal government does require that you be a U.S. citizen to qualify for this benefit.
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How You Can Help During The Covid
Its a familiar promise around WSU: Cougs help Cougs.
There a number of ways to fulfill that promise during the COVID-19 pandemic, from supporting students to giving your time. And we can expand that generosity to our communities, as well. Below are a few suggestions of places and ways you might be able to help out.
Donate To The Washington Food Coalition
Help support the work of the Washington Food Coalition by making your tax deductible donation today. The WFC supports food programs across the State of Washington by providing technical assistance, and more recently, by providing information and resources on COVID-19. We are sending out a e-newsletter to all members and friends on current COVID resources from the Department of Health, WSDA, the USDA and the Center for Disease Control, plus many others.We have distributed supplies such as gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and signage, to assist programs across the state in serving their clients. We are sponsoring a variety of trainings to inform our members how to navigate during these unprecedented times.
WFC’s Quarterly Newsletter – Summer 2022
Our Summer 2022 Quarterly Newsletter is now available for your reading pleasure!
Our Summer 2022 Newsletter is out! Lots of exciting news to share!
Mark your calendars for hosted by the WFC and the Anti-Hunger and Nutrition Coalition. We want to gather your input for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. Read about the 2022 Fresh Results Award Winner and the nominees. Hear about the Get Certified! Program – rolling out the coalition’s work regarding the Certified Food Protection Manager requirement from DOH. Plus an update from WSDA.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please feel free to contact Trish at
Renew Your WFC Membership Today!
Your membership comes with many benefits including:
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Our Work Is Only Possible With The Support Of Volunteers Like You Your Time Is A Valuable Donation
Volunteers are the heart and soul of our organization. They play a crucial role in our mission to provide access to nutritious food for all in Washington state.
Volunteers are the engine. Our volunteers donate approximately 150,000 hours per yearthe rough equivalent of 50 full-time staffand have a huge impact on all facets of our operations. Whether its repacking product at one of our regional distribution centers, distributing food at our SODO Community Market in Seattle, helping out a special events, or hosting food drives, our volunteers are vital to the ongoing fight against hunger.
Foodbanks & Food Relief Distributors
Washington State foodbanks are working hard to serve the needs of the food insecure and vulnerable. Most foodbanks have information on their websites regarding donations, volunteering, and how to find food. These facts about WA Hunger from Northwest Harvest before COVID-19:
- 1 in 10 Washingtonians struggle with hunger.
- 1 in 6 Washington kids live in a household that faces challenges in putting enough food on the table.
- 1 in 8 Washingtonians relies on SNAP , the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Half of all people on SNAP are kids.
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Seattle Food Committee & Seattle Foodbanks
Seattle Food Committee Foodbank Directory lists almost 30 foodbanks in the Seattle area and has the Foodbank Locator Map to help. Your local foodbank has likely posted specific information regarding the COVID19 response, such as these examples:
- North Helpline serving Lake City and Bitterlake has to food banks that serve the residents of the 98115, 98125, 98133, 98155, 98177, 98011, and 98028. You can also follow the page.
- Rainier Valley Foodbank COVID19 Response includes information about their services, health resources, dealing with prejudice and stigma, how to DONATE and how to VOLUNTEER
- The Ballard FoodBank COVID19 Update includes information on their expanded home delivery service, drive through service and food for the homeless.
University District Food Bank
For nearly four decades, University District Food Bank has helped prevent hunger in Northeast Seattle neighborhoods. Each week, more than 1,300 different families receive the groceries they need to prepare nutritionally balanced meals at home.
In July 2016, after an incredible history at University Christian Church, we moved into a purpose built new home co-located with 49 units of affordable housing operated by LIHI and YouthCare, a job skills training café operated by Street Bean, and an amazing rooftop garden where we grow produce for the food bank.
Last year, we had 58,000 customer visits and distributed over 2.4 million pounds of food.
Approximately 30% of our customers are infants and children, 55% are adults, and 15% are senior citizens. 15% of our customers are also unsheltered, so we try to provide them with ready-to-eat foods when they visit the food bank.
Our home delivery program reaches almost 400 home-bound customers every week. Our backpack program, at 14 nearby schools, provides almost 550 kids with meals and snacks for the weekend when school meals arent available.
Our two off site food pantries located at Mercy Magnuson Place and North Seattle College provide groceries to another 200 households a week.
Two-thirds of our food bank households have at least one person working at a job full time but rely on the food bank to help save a few dollars to use for other monthly expenses. One-third of food bank customers report looking for additional employment.
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Contracting And Program Models
Specific program models used are determined by the host site and will be based on needs of the local food access program. It is important that the host site creates a balance between increasing the availability of healthy produce for lower-income individuals, while also supporting the viability of local small-scale agriculture.
Considerations For Internal School Donations
- Backpack Brigades and other food donations for school children to take home should be limited to school meal components or commercially-packaged snack foods . Backpack items with potentially hazardous food ingredients must be kept refrigerated.
- School sharing tables should be limited to unopened school meal components and whole fruits in non-edible peels limited to service during the current meal period and offered from a designated collection area posted with safe operating reminders and restrictions for student sharing.
- Potentially hazardous foods destined for internal sharing from a school-sponsored sharing table must be commercially-packaged and is only allowed with an approved variance from the local health department.
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Rainier Valley Food Bank News
For some, the connection to community and the opportunity to build bonds is more than enough to entice them to give their time. Passionate about healthy food and serving her community, Renee first became involved two years ago, at the onset of the pandemic, when she and her friend Maggie signed up to be delivery drivers.
As a stay-at-home dad, Adam has made community service a priority. It’s hard to explain because it seems so obvious. To me just that it’s important to help out the community, right? Adam says, its just something to help make life more livable, and that makes life better for everyone in my estimation.
Our previous logo has carried us through the formative years as our organization and our community have grown. With so much growth still to come, from expanding services, and more exciting opportunities ahead, we’re excited to unveil our new logo, with hands reaching in to serve, a tree full of fruit to nourish, and a heart at the center.
Emergency Food Assistance Program
State funded program to support lower-income Washingtonians and those experiencing homelessness. It provides funding to local food banks and food pantries to support costs of food, operational expenses, training, equipment, and repairs. Established in Washington in 1986 and serves approximately 1.3 million people each year .
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Washington Free Food Pantries By County
Find churches, pantries, soup kitchens for hot meals and food banks for your city or county. Many may be near where you live, or they deliver groceries or meals via Meals on Wheels. The locations will be specific to those Washington towns and counties. Or continue to scroll down for even more locations.
Foods Unsuitable For Donation
Certain foods are not suitable for donation because of safety concerns. These foods include:
- Home canned, vacuum-packed or pickled foods.
- Foods in soiled containers.
- Perishable foods past a use by date, unless frozen.
- Foods in sharply dented or rusty cans.
- Foods in opened or torn containers exposing the food to potential contamination.
- Unpasteurized milk.
- Foods with an off odor.
- Foods prepared, cooked, cooled, or reheated at home .
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Scaling Up Access To Nutritious Food
Feeding Washington provides a high-level approach for how to get the most nutritious food to people facing hunger across the state. Our regions robust produce cooperativeknown as Feeding the Northwestsources and distributes an incredibly high volume of fresh, nutritious produce on behalf of food banks, pantries and meal programs in our state. In partnership with food banks in Oregon and Idaho, this cooperative sources fruits and vegetables from Pacific Northwest farms and distributes millions of pounds of produce in Washington state as well as other areas in need across the country each year.
Key program areas:
- Sourcing and distributing nutritious produce from Pacific Northwest farms through the Feeding the Northwest produce cooperative
- Supporting our members COVID-19 response and the high demand for food assistance
Most Read Local Stories
About a dozen people worked quickly last Friday to prep the food bank for in-person service, stacking canned salmon and opening paper bags.
LaTonya Ausler would like to help, she said because the food bank augments what she can afford on her own , and because, from the first time I came I felt connection. Her mothers funeral was held in the building years ago, she said.
Released from the hospital in March, Ausler, 66, didnt know how I was going to land. The food bank has been like a parachute, she said.
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Additional Notes For Safe Food Donation
- Food past the original manufacturer’s âsell byâ and âbest if used byâ date are suitable for donation, but not foods past a âuse byâ date.
- Dates on most foods, such as milk, yogurt, and packaged non-potentially hazardous foods, are not âuse byâ dates and are suitable for donation past the marked date.
- Food establishments wanting to donate food should ensure contamination-free procedures, strict employee hygiene practices, and proper temperature maintenance procedures are written and followed.
- It is recommended that an agreement be developed between the participating organizations to indicate selected foods for donation, contamination prevention measures, temperature control methods, transport and delivery procedures, and source records.
Agricultural And Food Processor Partnerships
Northwest Harvest makes it easy for food growers and processors to join in statewide efforts to provide food to those in need across Washington.
Our capacity to accept, repackage, and quickly redistribute bulk product through our statewide Hunger Response Network of 375 food program partners helps free up storage, avoid disposal costs, and contribute to the overall health and strength of our community
For more information, contact our Procurement Team:
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Safe Food Handling Practices
Although training is not a requirement for preparing food donations, food safety classes explain the food safety precautions required with feeding large groups. Many local health agencies, WSU Cooperative Extension offices, and food industry associations give short classes on food safety.
A knowledgeable group leader with food safety training and a Washington State Food Worker Card, if possible, should be selected to organize the food preparation efforts. Children under 10 years old should only handle wrapped foods, raw produce, and raw dry food staples to limit the potential for food safety errors. Food workers who are ill should not handle or prepare food.
Proper handwashing facilities and supplies must be convenient for all food handlers.
All food handlers should wash their hands before beginning work, and after:
- Going to the restroom.
- Coughing or sneezing into their hands.
- Handling raw meat.
- Hands become dirty.
Preventing Bare Hand Contact
To prevent the spread of germs, it is important to keep bare hands from touching foods that will not be cooked or washed before being eaten. Utensils or gloves can be used to prevent bare hand contact. Utensils need to be cleaned and sanitized between uses.
Potentially Hazardous Foods
Certain foods, called potentially hazardous foods, let bacteria grow quickly. It is important to keep these foods at safe temperatures to prevent bacteria from growing.
What Types Of Food Does Northwest Harvest Need
Please select shelf-stable foods that are low in sodium, sugar, and saturated fats. Here are some suggestions:
General food items
- Boxed or canned meals with low salt, sugar, and saturated fats
- Shelf-stable milk or dairy alternatives
Infant and baby foods
- Baby formula or canned milk
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Liz Siler 78hungry To Help
Around the back of the Pullman Safeway, a shopping cart emerges through an unmarked door. A man in a stocking cap pushes a precarious load of bakery items to the minivan waiting by the curb. Moments later, he returns with a second cart. Then a third.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Liz Siler 78 and her cart-steering husband Pat 61 load their van nearly to the roof with day-old loaves of generic and artisan bread, hot dog buns, cakes, muffins, bagels, croissants, and chocolate Cutie Pies.
Destined for Pullmans Community Action Center Food Bank, the donations will replenish the shelves in the bread room for » More
Washington State Free Food Banks
Free pantries, soup kitchens and food banks in Washington can provide assistance to the low income. Find free food near you that is given away daily, groceries, produce, meats, breads, and other items. The food pantry locations listed below in Washington, which may be near you, focus on the most vulnerable, including hungry senior citizens, single moms, or children.
Many of the non-profits, churches and charity organizations that provide food also work with partners, such the USDA or social service program in Washington. The goal is to help as many people as possible with fulfilling their basic needs.
Some of the Washington food banks can also provide other aid, such as clothing, holiday baskets and gifts. Many will also have information and referrals to other government programs, whether federal or state, such as SNAP food stamps. These resources can assist families with meeting their longer term needs. There is also a referral number at the bottom of the page for more locations of free food pantries in Washington.
Get information below on some of the main food banks, meals sites and pantries that operate in Washington. However people do have other options in their county as well. When you contact a center near you be sure to ask staff in order to learn about other local assistance programs.
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Getting Fresh Produce Into The Food Assistance System Is An Important Part Of Hunger
Harvest Against Hunger partners with the Washington State Department of Agriculture , Harvest VISTA host sites, farmers, food pantries, and local funders to expand the Farm to Food Pantry initiative that launched in 2014. The pilot began in response to a series of grower roundtables with small-scale farmers around WA, which indicated that it wasnt always financially feasible for small farms to donate to food pantries, but funding to create a purchasing relationship could offer a valuable opportunity to enhance the local small farm landscape.
Results from each year since show that buying directly from a local farmer will increase the variety, nutrient density, and availability of local crops in food pantries, thus improving access to healthier food choices for families and individuals experiencing nutritional insecurity. These direct purchasing contracts dramatically strengthen the bond between farmers and hunger-relief programs. Results continue to show that if a farmer has a strong relationship with a local food pantry, they are significantly more inclined to make additional produce donations through either gleaning or post-harvest. F2FP has fostered relationships across local food pantries, farmers markets, farm service organizations, nutrition education programs, and more!
See the F2FP Guidance Document for detailed information about initiative eligibility, procedures, deliverables, and resources.
Frequently Asked Questions