With food banks across the state facing a critical shortage of volunteers, the Seattle Seahawks, Northwest Harvest, Safeway and the Washington Food Coalition have teamed up to kick off a new campaign aimed at swelling the volunteer ranks. Called Back to Action, the organizers hope to attract 3,000 additional food bank volunteers statewide by Dec. 23.
“Our volunteer numbers have been down since COVID,” explained Casey Davis, Edmonds Food Bank CEO who serves as president of the Snohomish County Food Bank Coalition. “At the same time, the need has grown significantly.”
The need is also great in Lynnwood. In 2019, the Lynnwood Food Bank was serving around 42,000 food insecure people and is now serving more than 126,000.
The program rolled out on Saturday afternoon at the Lynnwood Food Bank. An army of regular volunteers were assisted by four members of the Seattle Seahawks 2014 Super Bowl championship team as they bagged up oats and rice for distribution to food bank shoppers. It was a busy afternoon, and the former Seahawk players jumped in with the kind of gusto that put them over the top against the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII almost 10 years ago.
“We always need volunteers,” added Alissa Jones, Lynnwood Food Bank executive director. “If you have some flexibility in your schedule and a desire to give back to your community, we’d love to talk with you, find out what kinds of things you can do and when you’re available to help out. In addition to helping your neighbors, it’s a chance to make new friends who share your values.”
This was echoed by long-time Edmonds Food Bank volunteer truck driver Stewart Terry, who finds volunteering a great way to do something meaningful in retirement.
“I’d be bored sitting at home,” he said. “I feel useful here, I’ve met some great people, and found new friends and relationships. If you’re considering volunteering, I suggest you try it out for a while – and I bet you’ll stay.”
Lynnwood City Councilmember Julietta Altamirano-Crosby, who began volunteering at the food bank when COVID hit, was also on hand for the event. “It’s a great way to reach out and help my community be a better place,” she said. “Giving back is part of what my parents taught me. It’s in my heart, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
If you’re interested in learning more, fill out the form on the Back to Action website and a volunteer coordinator will contact you.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel