Nonprofits fight hunger in Yakima County with giveaways, food drives

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — Nonprofit organizations are working to address hunger in Yakima County by hosting drive-thru food distributions, food drives and taking steps toward making a long-term difference in the food insecurity faced by local families.

Northwest Harvest has been working hard to deal with the unprecedented demand for food assistance since it skyrocketed at the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

“The state was seeing approximately 880,000 individuals facing food insecurity at that time and within less than a year, that number had jumped to 2.2 million,” said Laura Hamilton, Chief Advancement Officer with Northwest Harvest.

Hamilton said that was also true of Yakima County, which went from having 38% of households seeking food assistance up to 48% during the pandemic.

Second Harvest holds drive-thru mobile markets to giveaway roasts, produce in Yakima County

As the holiday season approaches, 1 in 11 families in Washington state are still struggling to get enough to eat. That’s why Second Harvest is hosting drive-thru food distribution events over the next week in Toppenish, Yakima and Zillah.

“You come in your car and we’ll ask, ‘Hey, are you here to pick up for maybe one or two families?'” said Eric Williams with Second Harvest. “We don’t we don’t care about anything else. We don’t ask a bunch of other questions.”

Williams said about 300 families at each event will get a box with produce, shelf-stable food items and a roast donated by Washington Beef.

“This is the 11th year that they have provided wonderful, wonderful roasts to augment our mobile markets,” Williams said.

There will be a mobile market from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesday in the parking lot of Legends Casino, 580 Fort Rd. in Toppenish. On Thursday, the mobile market will be from noon to 2 p.m. at Gate 15 of State Fair Park, 1301 S. Fair Ave. in Yakima.

Another mobile market will be held Tuesday from  1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Zillah Church of the Nazarene, 203 Miles Drive in Zillah.

American Medical Response Yakima to host ‘Fill the Ambulance’ Food Drive this weekend

American Medical Response Yakima is holding a “Fill the Ambulance” food drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Rosauers at 410 S. 72nd Ave. in Yakima.

“We’ve e got a team of folks and will be parked on the sidewalk kind of outside the door,” said David Lynde with AMR Yakima. “We’ll have an empty ambulance that we’re hoping to fill full of food.”

They’re looking for non-perishable food items like peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables, rice or baby formula. Donations will be sent to Northwest Harvest, which delivers supplies to food banks across the state.

Construction underway for Northwest Harvest’s new food distribution center in Yakima

Northwest Harvest is currently working to build a new distribution center in Yakima in order to be closer to local farms and in a more central location to deliver to the rest of the state. Hamilton said it should be open by the end of 2022.

Hamilton said by the spring of 2023, they will have added a free community market to the center.

“It will be set up like a grocery store where people can come in, choose the foods that most fit their family’s needs and and not have to pay for any of it,” Hamilton said.

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