Food Lifeline is the Young Professionals of Seattle (YPCSeattle) Q1, 2024 Impact Partner
Food Lifeline Hunger Solutions Headquarters in Seattle
Food insecurity and poverty are two of the most important issues affecting our community and go hand in hand. Poverty can cause food insecurity but food insecurity can also cause poverty. A person experiencing food insecurity has less energy for work, education, and other activities, which can lead to financial and housing instability as well as physical and mental health issues.
The USDA defines food insecurity as “limited to uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” Food insecurity does not only mean access to any food, it can mean access to culturally appropriate food also.
The food insecurity rate in Washington State is 10%. Food insecurity can be temporary or long-lasting and is not equal across communities — 32% of Black, 26% of Latino, and 24% of Native American adults experience food insecurity compared to just 7% of white adults in Washington. And 1 in 7 children experience food insecurity. This is measured by collecting information from government assistance programs, food banks, food insecurity surveys, and food deserts.
Within Western Washington and the broader United States food insecurity is on the rise and is only enhanced when combined with the lasting impacts of inflation, high housing costs, societal inequities, and climate change. As a result, people are forced to make difficult choices between paying the bills and putting food on the table.
In 2023 alone, people seeking food assistance in Western Washington grew by 63% to more than 1.6 million. In the article “It now takes at least 6 figures for a family to get by in Seattle” reporter Danny Westneat states, “the Seattle area ranks as the place with the fastest growing prices in the United States…The cost of living is escalating faster here than anyplace else.” And most of this increase is due to three things – food, housing, and child care.
Volunteers sort food during a day of service
When you focus even more on the issue here in Washington, you see that 35% of people facing food insecurity make 185% of the federal poverty line, which makes them ineligible for public nutrition assistance programs like SNAP and WIC which are already inadequate to meet the needs of those who qualify.
Food Lifeline is working to combat food insecurity and its causes, including poverty, racial inequity, and social injustice. They believe that access to food is a basic human right and that nobody deserves to be hungry. Food Lifeline provides nutritious food to 1.6 million people facing hunger by sourcing nutritious food from a variety of food industry partners. They distribute through a network of 296 food banks, shelters, and meal programs, enabling them to provide the equivalent of more than 233,457 meals every single day. They do this through advocacy efforts to shape local, state, and federal policy, by partnering with organizations that are addressing other causes of poverty, and through engagement and bundling food assistance with other community-based programs and services.
Food Lifeline works to solve hunger today through direct distribution, online ordering and pickup to partner agencies, and mobile food programs that deliver food to rural food banks, urban “food deserts” senior housing, and school food programs. They work on solving hunger for the future by investing in community-led hunger solutions, getting the right food to the right places, and building a movement to end hunger through advocacy.
“ It got to the point where I needed to pay other bills, but I also needed to figure out how to feed the family, so I came down here
Food Lifeline believes that people who have experienced or are currently living with food insecurity are truly experts in what it takes to end hunger and as a result work in partnership with community organizations and listen to people who are facing hunger on a daily basis. Angela, a Providence Regina House Food Bank client and volunteer is one of these voices. Angela comes to Food Lifeline to help keep food on the table for herself, her husband, and her teenage son. Even though her husband works full-time, the family struggles to afford the food they need to thrive. With rampant inflation and food costs rising nearly 30% in the past two years, shopping at traditional grocery stores has become a luxury they can’t afford.
Angela shares: “When I first came here, I was so ashamed. I felt so bad. And they made me feel welcome. They learned my name, and that made me feel so good. Rents started to go up a few years ago, money got a little tighter, and coming here was a way that I could help ease that burden on my family with what they provide here. At the grocery store, it’s now $600 for what you used to get for $300. It got to the point where I needed to pay other bills, but I also needed to figure out how to feed the family, so I came down here.”
We hope you can join us January - March, 2024 as we work with Food Lifeline to help people like Angela access food and not have to choose between putting food on the table and paying their rent and other bills, because access to food is a human right.