Mission: To provide food-insecure people in Washington State with access to nutritious food while respecting their dignity.
About the organization: Founded in 1967, Northwest Harvest believes that equitable access to nutritious food is a human right and a means to expand opportunity across Washington State. As the leading hunger relief agency in the state, it supports a network of nearly four hundred food banks, meal programs, and programs in high-need schools. In addition to ensuring that food-insecure families have access to healthy food, the organization works to shape public opinion, advocate for a more equitable food system, and address institutional policies and societal practices that perpetuate hunger, poverty, and health-related disparities.
Current programs: The organization's community programs include the SODO Community Market, a no-cost grocery store that provides fresh produce, grocery staples, and healthy food options to those in need, and a number of partner food programs — including a Hunger Response Network of hot-meal sites, food banks, mobile food pantries, and free restaurants and pop-up food banks for migrant farmworkers — to which it provides free food. The organization's regional distribution networks span western, central, and eastern Washington.
With a focus on changing the conversation about hunger in Washington State from one focused on charity to one that is rooted in social justice, the organization's food justice and advocacy and public policy efforts engage people living with hunger in identifying policy changes that are crucial to improving access to public resources and helping them meet their basic nutrition, health, and housing needs, and works with state and federal lawmakers to effect changes in laws, regulations, and budgets with the goal of protecting, strengthening, and sufficiently funding programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and in-school breakfast and lunch programs.
COVID-19 response: In response to the pandemic, Northwest Harvest has significantly increased its distribution of food to partner food banks and meal programs and is providing COVID-related information on its website. The organization has distributed thousands of ready-to-eat meals since the pandemic began, along with shelf-stable meal boxes to locations across King, Pierce, Yakima, and Spokane counties through its mobile outreach program; shipped emergency food boxes to partner programs across the state; and worked with Second Harvest and Food Lifeline to meet the rapidly growing demand for emergency food.
Website: Visitors to the organization's site can research hunger facts and statistics for Washington State, learn more about the organization's programs, consult a map of partner food program locations, or browse resources on topics ranging from food justice and advocacy to food security, nutrition, and recipes. They can also learn more about getting involved in advocacy work, volunteering, and/or making a donation.
Funding: Northwest Harvest is supported by individuals, foundations, and corporations.