Northwest Harvest and Safeway and Albertsons stores are unveiling a statewide food drive to collect groceries for local food banks in response to the increasing demand created by the ongoing government shutdown.
As the federal shutdown continues, many Washington residents are at risk of not being able to meet their most basic of needs. Furloughed federal employees, contractors and other business owners and employees are missing paychecks, forced to skip meals, miss mortgage payments, or default on medical bills or student loans.
All Safeway and Albertsons stores in Washington have Northwest Harvest donation bins for customers to donate nonperishable items for those most impacted by the government shutdown. Food collected will be distributed from the grocery stores directly to that community’s local food bank or food pantry.
“Right now, more than a million people in our state are being negatively impacted. And each day the shutdown continues – even more are added to that list,” said Sara Osborne, Safeway’s Public & Government Affairs director. “Because of this, local food banks – the final safety net when public assistance programs run out of funding – are seeing dramatic increases in demand.”
In addition to all those going without their regular income, 1 in 8 Washingtonians that count on SNAP to buy nutritious food are facing a dire uncertainty – as it is unclear whether they will receive assistance in March should the shutdown continue.
“That’s why this partnership between Northwest Harvest and Safeway is so vital,” said Thomas Reynolds, Northwest Harvest’s CEO. “Together, we have the ability to make a huge difference in our community by coming together and helping our neighbors keep food on their tables during this very difficult time.”
Northwest Harvest provides nutritious food freely to 375 food banks, meal programs and high-need schools throughout the state.
“As an agency that specializes in making nutritious food available in times of sudden or unexpected need across the state, we have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of families visiting their community food banks for the very first time,” Reynolds added. “Many of these first-time visitors are families of federal employees.”
To keep neighborhood food bank shelves stocked, community members are being asked to drop off a bag of groceries at their nearest Safeway or Albertsons store – or go directly to northwestharvest.org to contribute to help those at imminent risk due to missing their paychecks or supplemental benefits.