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COVID-19 Response

Last updated 11/17/2020

As a result of COVID-19, the number of Washingtonians who cannot put food on their tables has more than doubled. Over the last few months, we have worked with partners all over the state to get healthy food where it’s needed.

Northwest Harvest has dramatically increased our distribution of nutritious food to partner food banks and meal programs. Our partners are finding ways to safely deliver and package food for pick-up so people can get what they need for their families to stay healthy.

Find Food and Financial Support

If you need food, please see our Hunger Response Network map and list.

NOTE: Many food programs have adjusted hours or services in response to the pandemic.

  • Guests are strongly recommended to call ahead or check for updates online before visiting.
  • Washington Food Coalition has documented closures or changes in operations at food banks across the state, listed by county and date.
  • Food Lifeline has assembled this Google Map in cooperation with Northwest Harvest and Second Harvest. It includes information for people who need food or want to volunteer, provides search options filtered by service, and is refreshed daily.

If you have recently lost your job or had your hours cut back, SNAP is here to help!
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP is money to buy food from grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers markets, and other certified retailers. Everyone has the right to apply for SNAP, including in the case of sudden or temporary job loss.

To apply, visit Washington Connection or the Benefit Finder on ParentHelp123. These websites also provide eligibility information for additional public benefits programs for food or health care. Get grocery money for your out-of-school student

Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) provides eligible families with school-aged children up to $399 per child to buy groceries. To determine eligibility, apply for SNAP or fill out a school meal application with your local school district.

Access to school meals
During the COVID-19 school closures, all children and teens who are students can access grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches. Visit USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s page for a list of school meal distribution sites or communications from your local school district.

This fact sheet (PDF) with additional information about public nutrition assistance programs will be updated periodically as new changes are made.

Two COVID-19 Relief Funds Now Open to Undocumented Residents in WA:

Washington Immigrant Relief Fund
If you’re an immigrant experiencing hard times because of COVID-19, and you can’t get federal financial relief or unemployment insurance, apply for the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund. Applications Accepted: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 to Sunday, December 6, 2020, 12:00 a.m. Individuals and families can apply at www.immigrantreliefwa.org in 3 languages. For help applying over the phone in multiple languages, call the WAISN hotline at 1-844-724-3737.

Seattle COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund
Applicants must live, work, or attend school within the Seattle city boundaries; be low-income and have been ineligible for federal CARES Act Economic Impact Payments because of immigration status. Applications accepted: Thursday, October 15, 2020, 9:00 p.m. to November 5, 2020, 11:59 p.m. Individuals and families can apply online at seattlecovidfund.org (info available in 7 languages). 20 organizations are available to help applicants apply over the phone in 41 languages.

Our Response

We are doing what we do best—distributing healthy food to locations throughout the state and advocating for policies that leave fewer empty cupboards to begin with. We are:

  • Leading a Washington state needs assessment that has projected a near doubling of food insecurity in our state—from 850,000 Washingtonians to 1.6 million;
  • Providing thousands of ready-to-eat meals along with shelf-stable meal boxes each week to dozens of community locations throughout King, Pierce, Yakima, and Spokane counties, through our mobile outreach;
  • Packing and sending well over 500,000 emergency food boxes for distribution to our partners in all parts of Washington with the support of the National Guard. See how our commitment to focusing on equity in our communities is driving our distribution of Emergency Food Boxes;
  • Working with Second Harvest and Food Lifeline to best meet the rapidly growing demand for emergency food in communities across the state. For county-by-county services information, please see the Washington State Partner Program FAQ (PDF);
  • Serving over 1,500 individuals and families each week at Northwest Harvest’s SODO Community Market. The Market is open regular hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and has been converted from a grocery store to a grocery bag pickup location to minimize the wait and keep customers, staff, and volunteers safe;
  • Working closely with policymakers to better serve Washington’s most vulnerable communities.

How You Can Help

Volunteer

We are in urgent need of healthy volunteers. We have open volunteer shifts at three of our locations: Yakima Distribution Center, Spokane Distribution Center, and SODO Community Market.

Please email volunteer@northwestharvest.org to sign up for a shift and learn more.

The well-being of our volunteers is extremely important to Northwest Harvest. To keep volunteers safe, we’ve put the following practices in place across all our locations:

  • Frequent sanitizing of all our facilities;
  • Reducing shift sizes so volunteers can work at a safe distance from each other;
  • Urging volunteers to wash their hands upon arrival and multiple times throughout their shifts;
  • Encouraging self-evaluation; volunteers who are unwell—even with the most minor of symptoms—are encouraged to stay home. For those who feel well, we encourage volunteers to check their temperatures prior to shifts and to stay home if their temperatures are elevated.

Serving Northwest Harvest and our community is a personal decision. We encourage volunteers to make choices based on what is best for their well-being. For those who feel uncomfortable, we understand. It is OK to stay home.

See our volunteer update regarding Gov. Inslee’s “stay home, stay healthy” order.

Donate

Support Northwest Harvest as we ensure people do not go hungry during this crisis. Donate Here.

Food Drives

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective 11/17/2020 Northwest Harvest is temporarily suspending our individual and small-group food drive program. We are no longer be accepting food drive applications and are unable to offer support for food drives until further notice.

Learn More

Distributing Emergency Food with an Eye Toward Equity  – Seattle Times Op-Ed by Northwest Harvest CEO, Thomas Reynolds. May 14, 2020. Our goal is to get nutritious food to those who need it and ensure that no one goes hungry in Washington during this pandemic.

Thank You!

Thank you for refusing to stand by and let people go hungry during this pandemic. To support this unprecedented need, we launched our COVID-19 Response Fund on March 1st. This community has shown incredible support and dedication to ensuring people have equitable access to nutritious food. Thanks to you, we have been able to work with our partners across the state.

Among food donors, we are especially indebted to Inaba Produce Farms in the Yakima Valley. Their “fresh box” partnership is supplementing our emergency food boxes with nutritious produce, supplying diverse fruits and vegetables to thousands of families per week.