Northwest NEWS

July 24, 2000

Local News

'Day of Concern for the Hungry'

by Bronwyn Wilson, senior staff reporter

   Sometimes people unexpectedly face a short-term loss of income. Maybe an illness, or a job loss, or a family difficulty drains the savings account.

   When this occurs, families turn to the Emergency Feeding Program for help. Not a traditional food bank, the Emergency Feeding Program helps those with temporary needs by providing a two-day supply of well-balanced meals.

   In conjunction with the program and with other mayors in Washington State, Mayor Randy Ransom of Woodinville proclaimed September 30, 2000, as the "Day of Concern for the Hungry." This day is set aside to recognize adequate nutrition as a basic right that should be afforded each citizen in need.

   On this day, volunteers will go to Woodinville's grocery stores and pass out flyers requesting shoppers buy food items to donate to the program. The flyers suggest items needed, such as macaroni and cheese, tuna, or peanut butter. After the suggested food is purchased, a barrel will be available for placement of the food items. All collected donations help stock the Emergency Feeding Program's shelves before the holidays when the need is greatest.

   Catherine Hillard, Eastside Resource Coordinator for the Emergency Feeding Program, noted that the National Honor Society from Woodinville High collected twelve barrels of food in one day last year at the Woodinville Albertson's.

   "People love to see the high school kids doing something positive like that," she said. And due to their efforts, people who were experiencing hard times were able to enjoy a meal they might not have had otherwise.

   "In 1999, we provided over 450,000 meals in King County to about 75,000 [people]," Hillard said. She added that Washington State is ranked fourth-worst in the nation for the prevalence of hunger and that 7 percent of Northshore school students qualify for reduced-price and/or free lunches.

   "On the Eastside, poverty and hunger are more hidden," Hillard said. She pointed out that 50 percent of people served by the program are children.

   The Emergency Feeding Program began during the Boeing crisis in 1977, when a group of clergy in Seattle saw a need to help the hungry. "They started out with a card table on the street," Hillard said.

   Today, the program has grown to as many as 2,000 volunteers a year, some helping out on a long-term basis, and some serving for just a day or once a month. The program receives support from churches, grants, and state funding. Plus, all kinds of agencies, from the Salvation Army to the Dept. of Health and Social Services to health clinics, work with the program. "We work with thirty different agencies on the Eastside," Hillard said.

   For example, the Dept. of Health and Social Services will refer a family to the Emergency Feeding Program to help tide them over until food stamps are available. Or, Eastside Domestic will send to the program a woman who's in crisis and needs nutritional sustenance for a temporary time.

   Everyone who seeks the Emergency Feeding Program for a balanced meal receives it. And not only are the meals nutritious, they are geared for any special dietary needs. Should medical reasons require a low-sugar, low-salt diet, these foods are available. Also, meals are on hand to accommodate ethnic preferences, if desired.

   Currently, the Emergency Feeding Program is seeking volunteer groups from Woodinville to staff neighborhood markets for the upcoming "Day of Concern for the Hungry" on September 30th. If interested, call 425-562-0698 and ask for Catherine Hillard.