At Socialistics, we pride ourselves on being far more than just a social media marketing company. We’re also committed to contributing to our community and making the world a better place.
That’s why we started our Socialistics Cares spotlight. Here, we showcase and donate to a different charity (and encourage others to do the same) each month.
This month’s charity highlight goes to one that is personal to our Account Manager, Artemis Peacocke! Her Charity of choice is Northwest Harvest. This Washington-based organization is dedicated to eliminating hunger.
Read on to learn more about Northwest Harvest, what they do, and how you can support them.
What Is Northwest Harvest?
Northwest Harvest is Washington state’s leading hunger relief agency. They work hard to build partnerships in communities throughout the state and provide food to those who need it the most.
On average, Northwest Harvest provides 2 million meals per month to Washingtonians in need. They do this through a variety of food banks, high-need schools, and meal programs.
The expansiveness of Northwest Harvest’s reach is only part of what makes this organization impressive.
The charity also works hard to provide people with food that is both nutritious and culturally appropriate. They have great respect for individuals’ dignity and strive to provide resources that promote good health.
A Brief History of Northwest Harvest
Northwest Harvest began in 1967. It started with a group of social activists who saw that many people in Washington were struggling with hunger.
In 1980, the organization secured and distributed more than 1 million pounds of food for the first time. Thirty years later in 2010, it became a statewide agency with warehouses in Spokane and Yakima.
In 2019, Northwest Harvest also opened SODO Community Market. SODO is a Seattle-based, no-cost grocery store that revolutionizes the way food banks serve those in need.
Meet the Northwest Harvest Team
Northwest Harvest is run by a diverse team of dedicated, experienced professionals. However, they all share the organization’s mission to grow food justice across Washington.
The team includes the following:
- James Gibbs, Chief of Staff
- Laura Hamilton, Chief Advancement Officer
- Thomas Reynolds, Chief Executive Officer
- Wayne Shorter, Chief Operating Officer
- Cynthia Chavez, Chief Financial Officer
- Leilani Williams, Equity & Inclusion Director
Northwest Harvest Partners
Northwest Harvest also partners with other organizations with similar goals, including the following:
Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition (AHNC)
This organization advocates for policy changes. This includes dedicating public funds to improve nutrition programs and access to emergency food assistance.
Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
This organization is the leading nonprofit organization in the United States. It aims to end issues like poverty-related hunger and undernutrition.
Good Food Organization
This is an organization dedicated to creating a healthy and fair food system. It operates alongside Community Food Centres Canada.
Washington Food Coalition
This is a group of emergency food providers. They aid those in disadvantaged communities throughout the state of Washington.
Western-Regional Anti-Hunger Coalition
This is a multi-state collaborative organization. They are committed to advocating against hunger in the Western United States.
The Northwest Harvest Approach
Northwest Harvest addresses hunger and food injustice with a four-pronged approach:
Redefining Food Banks
SODO Community Market is one of Northwest Harvest’s greatest achievements. It is a safe and community-oriented space that is redefining the concept of food banks.
Northwest Harvest CEO Thomas Reynolds says that he and his team wanted to “blur the lines” between food banks and grocery stores when they designed the SODO Community market.
It was important to Reynolds and other team members that those who get their food from SODO experience a sense of dignity and “feel like they are just like everyone else.”
Partnering to Provide Nutritious Food
Every year, Northwest Harvest provides millions of pounds of food to 375 different food programs.
The organization and its partners work hard to ensure recipients have easy access to nutritious food. This includes fresh produce and other items that may be hard to access at traditional food banks.
Impacting Institutional Policy
The folks who run Northwest Harvest understand that an equitable food system is essential to eliminating hunger. They also believe that nutritious food is a human right.
These beliefs contribute to Northwest Harvest’s commitment to addressing hunger at an institutional level. That’s why they advocate for legislation that checks the following boxes:
- Promotes access to nutritious food for all
- Helps those who are struggling to meet their basic needs
- Supports budgets to restore a basic safety net
The organization also has a robust 2022 legislative agenda, which includes the following:
- Expanding the number of schools that provide no-cost meals to all students
- Improving the quality of household poverty data by implementing an accessible, online school meal application
- Providing resources to better support food resources, as well as the capacity investments for food banks
- Increasing access to the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
- Strengthening Washington’s food system resiliency with capital budget support for the Yakima project
Empowering Others to Make a Difference
Northwest Harvest believes in empowering others by encouraging volunteer work.
They are grateful for all of the volunteers to contribute to their fight against hunger. They also encourage them to continue working with the organization (and getting others involved) to further their mission.
Addressing Food Justice in the U.S.
Our team at Socialistics was so excited to spotlight Northwest Harvest this month for multiple reasons.
Of course, we believe in their mission. However, we also appreciate the hard work they do to educate others on the importance of food justice in Washington and throughout the United States.
What Is Food Justice?
Food justice is a distinct view of the food system that sees healthy food as a human right. It also addresses structural barriers like poverty and institutional racism that interfere with that right.
Northwest Harvest believes that providing food to those who are affected by structural barriers like those discussed above is crucial to combating food injustice and ending hunger.
Northwest Harvest’s efforts extend beyond partnering with food banks and providing access to resources like SODO Community Market. The organization also offers a robust collection of resources on food injustice and food security to educate its audience.
They offer resources on their website for those currently struggling with hunger, too. This includes nutrition information, simple recipes, and tools that help others take action in their communities.
Ways to Get Involved
There are lots of ways to get involved in Northwest Harvest’s mission, from contributing to their advocacy efforts to hosting a food drive of your own. The following are some of the most effective options you might want to consider:
Making access to food easier is a key step in eliminating hunger. However, Northwest Harvest can’t make lasting, widespread changes on its own.
This is why the organization is so committed to producing change on a legislative level.
What can those who want to contribute to Northwest Harvest’s advocacy efforts do?
The organization recommends connecting with local legislators, then imploring them to support initiatives backed by Northwest Harvest.
Through the Northwest Harvest website, you can find your local legislators. You can also access resources to help them become more informed on issues like food justice and food insecurity.
Monetary donations play a key role in helping Northwest Harvest achieve its goals.
All online donations are secure and tax-deductible. They can be made once or on a recurring basis through the Northwest Harvest website.
Folks who are interested in supporting Northwest Harvest’s mission can also give their time by volunteering.
SODO Community Market cannot run without help from volunteers. The same goes for the many different distribution centers, food drives, and other community events that Northwest Harvest runs and contributes to each year.
Northwest Harvest offers ongoing volunteer opportunities for individuals ages nine and up. As for group volunteering, groups of 5 or fewer can also volunteer at SODO Community Market. Larger groups can also volunteer at the organization’s distribution centers.
Food drives are a great way for organizations and individuals to collect food to donate to Northwest Harvest.
The nonprofit’s in-person food drive program is currently on hold because of COVID-19. However, Northwest Harvest still advocates for virtual food drives (and offers resources on how to host them).
They also encourage donating to local food banks and mutual aid campaigns. Starting “little free pantries” in one’s community is another good way to give back.
Donate to Northwest Harvest Today
Do you see now why we wanted to include Northwest Harvest in our Socialistics Cares charity highlight? This organization does incredible work, and we’re excited to see where they go from here.
We’re thrilled to be donating to Northwest Harvest and their cause this month. We also wanted to give our audience a chance to give back as well.
Want to start contributing to Northwest Harvest?
Consider participating in one of the initiatives discussed above. From contacting your local legislators to hosting a virtual food drive, there are lots of ways to help out.
You can also make a monetary donation today. All you have to do is click this link and fill out the form on their website!