FIFE, Wash. – While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive the need at food banks across the country, members of the Washington National Guard working alongside Emergency Food Network staff packed more than 8,000 food boxes last week for residents of Pierce County.
The week-long effort was a collaborative endeavor between Pierce County Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Emergency Food Network and the Washington National Guard. The food boxes will be distributed to residents who are participating in EFN's home delivery program.
"We are so incredibly grateful to both the National Guard and Pierce County Department of Emergency Management for this collaborative effort," said EFN CEO Michelle Douglas. "These boxes will go to feed thousands of our hungry neighbors throughout the first quarter of 2021.
"We've seen a 40 percent increase in the need for food assistance, and we are so excited to have this community support in feeding our neighbors."
Some members of the Guard have been processing, packaging and distributing food to the community for nearly nine months.
"Our Guardsmen are grateful to be a part of this effort because we see the difference we are making in people's lives," said Capt. Kelly Meade, the officer in charge of the Guard's food bank mission in the south Puget Sound area. "What they are doing here with Emergency Food Network and Pierce County is important."
Last month, members of the National Guard moved the Bonney Lake Food Bank across town to a large facility due to the increased need.
"I am always so impressed when I go to a food bank to check on how our teams are doing; they are so positive and engaged," said Meade. "We work in 13 different locations in the south sound, doing anything and everything we can do to help the community."
As of Jan. 12, the Washington National Guard has helped process, package and distribute more than 73 million pounds of food while supporting food banks across the state.