This past holiday season, Chamber’s Bay Whole Foods Market partnered with the community to donate nearly $8,000 to the Emergency Food Network.
The funds support EFN’s hunger relief initiatives in Pierce County by providing greater access to nutritious food and healthy eating education. EFN has been serving Pierce County since 1982. In 2014, the organization distributed more than 15.2 million pounds of food to the programs it serves.
“Our partnership with [Whole Foods] is so important. Since 2008 the need has gone up 71 percent in Pierce County. We’re not seeing a significant increase in numbers going to the food bank, but there was an increase in how often people went there. More and more people are underemployed and they can’t just make it all month, and so are relying on partner programs to make it through the month. Over 50 percent of visitors are working families with children and senior citizens,” said EFN Executive Director Helen McGovern-Pilant.
Whole Foods raised the money through the Feed4more campaign that encourages customers to donate to a local organization.
“Feed4more is our annual holiday fundraising campaign. We ask customers for two weeks to donate to a chosen organization. Every year we have a food access partner and we understand the importance of a meal, a healthy meal. Families are one of our core priorities and we were able to give the Pierce County Emergency Food Network almost $8,000 this holiday season,” said Whole Foods Marketing Associate Coordinator Leah Abell.
Whole Foods employee Kimberly Halinen believes it’s the people of Pierce County and University Place that allows Whole Foods to be successful in its fund raising efforts.
“Our success comes from the people of Pierce County. It’s a friendly area, a friendly town, and our customer service team is great with connecting with them. Every dollar comes from the community team members here, our customers,” Halinen said.
The Feed4More program isn’t the only work Whole Foods does in the community. Every quarter, Whole Foods takes one day to donate 5 percent of their earnings to a local cause. On Jan. 13, the Chambers Bay store was able to raise $2,188.68 for the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium Education Program.
“We have had this philosophy since we opened in the 1980’s. We serve and support our local and global community, and we know that every community is different. When we open in a local community, we go in beforehand and get to know the players, organization, causes and nonprofits. We find out what are important issues to business owners and we like to be seen as part of that community. Things like our giving program, this is a way that we can align with our mission of food access and happy families,” Abell said.
The $8,000 will transfer to a huge amount for EFN, as the non-profit understands the value in stretching their dollar.
“For every dollar we receive we’re able to distribute $12 worth of food. We appreciate food from food drives,” McGovern-Pilant said. “We find really great ways to stretch the dollar.”