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Stories from the Harvest: March 2023

text of Stories from the Harvest March 2023 with background of leafy greens growing in greenhouse

Nourishing Your Neighbors  |  Employee Spotlight  |  My Neighbor’s Table

Nourishing Your Neighbors

Nourish, a network of food banks in Pierce County, aims to provide nutritious food and support services to people in need with compassion, dignity, and respect. Their vision is to turn scarcity into security.

miniature shopping cart filled with mini grocery items and Nourish Pierce County logo on front

Nourish operates six fixed location food banks and fourteen additional mobile food bank sites. Each food bank is set up like a grocery store, lined with pasta and fresh produce. Shoppers are provided enough food to make at least three meals for three days for each individual in their family. Nourish also helps clients move to a more stable future by providing information on housing, medical support, government subsidies, and community resources.

Nourish established the first mobile food bank in Pierce County, in order to serve parts of the county that would otherwise not have access to a traditional food bank. The mobile food banks operate out of semi-trucks that you can enter and browse for both refrigerated and shelf-stable items.

two Nourish staff members stand outside of Nourish Edgewood locationWe visited the Edgewood location, a Nourish food bank that is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, to learn more about their work and recent changes in the communities they support. Kate Wright, Edgewood food bank manager, shared that their location has seen a 42% increase in need from January, 2022 to January, 2023. Not only has the need for their services increased in general, but the county has also seen a significant rise in Ukrainian refugees who have been displaced from their home country due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Many Ukrainian families find their way to the Edgewood food bank through word of mouth in faith communities. As more shoppers from Ukraine started to arrive, and in an effort to provide foods “that make it feel like home,” Kate and her procurement team have been working hard to provide items that are staples in Ukrainian cuisine: canned salmon, pickles, sour cream, buckwheat, beets, cabbage, and certain spices. The team also prioritizes translating signage into both Russian and Ukrainian, in addition to Spanish and Korean to ensure guests are able to access their resources with as few barriers as possible.

Food Bank Manager Kate holds artwork done by local Ukrainian girl

As demand for food bank services increase and lines have grown longer, the Edgewood team has gotten creative about making the wait to enter and shop as pleasant as possible. They provide chalk to families with young children and encourage them to decorate the sidewalk with their art. One young girl from Ukraine showed particular talent in her chalk drawings. Edgewood staff loved her art so much, they asked the family if they could commission her to make two paintings for their upcoming annual fundraising dinner and auction. The family agreed and the girl’s artwork will be auctioned off at the event in May, allowing the Edgewood team to continue to provide resources to their community.

If you would like to support their mission with a gift, please visit their website.

Employee Spotlight: Sol image of sol posing with arms up and left leg extended in front of red truck and tree with autumn leaves

Northwest Harvest is excited to introduce you to Sol, our Movement Building Program Manager. Sol’s work focuses on mobilizing coalitions for anti-hunger and anti-poverty legislation. Alongside this effort, Sol is a natural community builder – through insightful education and conversation around creating systemic change.

“I want to encourage folks to operate from a place of abundance and not scarcity. This allows us to be less competitive about resources so we can get more creative in how we can work together and dismantle the system.”

Sol has lived in Seattle for the past 2 years and they have grown to love the people they’ve met here. “At times it can feel isolating because it’s so cold and rainy and so it’s nice to have some relationships here that feel like family”. Sol has a large African family descending from Eastern and Southern Africa. Sol’s parents immigrated to the States in the 90’s and they are first generation American. In recent years, Sol has been very interested in investing in the oral histories of their older relatives as a way of understanding more of their own roots, as well as preserving their families’ experiences over generations. One of Sol’s fondest memories is making samosa s with their family. “Samosas was one of the first things I learned to make as a child, and also one of the first things I was taught by two generations because my mother and grandmother taught me at the same time.” Another passion project Sol is working on is taking some of their cultural dishes and turning them plant based as a way to honor their ancestors, and also make cultural cuisine more accessible to those with dietary restrictions.

Currently, Sol is most excited about the cross functional relationships they have been building with various community organizations around the state. We are so grateful to have creative driven minds like Sol who underscore the importance of collective action and community in their work. Thank you for all that you do Sol!

My Neighbor’s Table: Spring Onion Noodles

image of recipe card - photo of bowl of spring onion noodles above block of text with serving size and time estimates - to right of card is list of ingredients and cooking instructionsNorthwest Harvest is excited to announce the launch of our recipe card project! Stay up to date as we share a variety of cuisine from communities all over Washington. Whether it’s trying a new ingredient or falling in love with the flavors of a new dish, we believe that food brings people together – in the joy of cooking or eating!

RECIPE: Spring Onion Noodles