Lavonte is visiting the mobile food program at Rainier Beach Community Center for the third time this month. This time he picks up fresh boxes of produce, and a crate of dairy products. This food will make a difference as his family struggles during the pandemic.
"We're having a tough time", he says. "My mother is battling breast cancer, and we're taking care of my niece, whose family doesn't have the means to support. This food means a lot."
This mobile food bank is a partnership between Food Lifeline and the Rainier Valley Food Bank. Every Wednesday, the partners provide a no-touch distribution to more than five hundred families. The lines are around the block.
"We get such good food here", says Lavonte. "Lots of vegetables, milk, yogurt...it helps us stretch our food budget."
Food Lifeline operates three of these mobile food pantries across Seattle, primarily in neighborhoods hardest hit by layoffs and unemployment. So far, they have distributed more than a million food boxes. But the cost is high. To date, Food Lifeline has spent $14 million providing this food to people who need it the most. Since the pandemic, the number of people needing food has nearly doubled, with 1.5 million people requesting help. Families like Lavonte's.
"We work, a lot", he says. "But my hours were cut in half, and there's no way I can keep food in the house with half a paycheck."
Families like Lavontes continue to push through the food line as masked volunteers place boxes in trunks and back seats. It takes hundreds of volunteers, staff, and donors to make this happen. and Lavonte says he's grateful.
"I don't know exactly who is making this happen, but I have to say, we couldn't be more grateful. People are good."
The need for this food is only expected to grow as we move into the Fall and Winter, with one in five people at risk for hunger in Western Washington. Your donations ensure that families like Lavontes have the safety and security of knowing there will be food on the table.