Members of the Tacoma Sunrise Rotary Club are scooping, bagging, repacking, and boxing everything from rice and oats to squash and apples (and more) to help fight hunger throughout Pierce County.
All this activity takes place at the Emergency Food Network (EFN), located in Lakewood, Washington, just outside of Tacoma. Over the last few years, the club has formed a strong partnership with EFN and helps support their hunger work.
Hunger is a serious issue in Pierce County, where one in ten people experience food insecurity. In 2022, EFN distributed about 13 million pounds of food throughout Pierce County. Some of the food comes into EFN by the truckload from various companies and farmers. Other food is donated to EFN by individuals, families, and companies.
The food is stored “wholesale” in EFN’s huge warehouse facility. Club volunteers work there to split up the large volumes of the food (like a 1,200-pound box of frozen vegetables) into smaller ”retail” packages that are then distributed to more than 70 food banks and programs throughout Pierce County.
This March, club volunteers assembled “break bags” at EFN for students in need to take home and use during their school spring break. Each bag was filled with 21 non-perishable food items and weighed about 13 pounds.
Each club session at EFN runs for two hours on a Saturday morning and usually has about 10 to 15 volunteers. Club member Rod Koon coordinates the program. “Not only is it a great physical workout for our members,” Rod said, “but it’s also a chance for some fellowship and fun. You really get to know a person when you work together side by side with them repacking thousands of pounds of food.”
To help promote the Rotary brand, the club displays the Rotary logo on all their name tags worn at the event and on the large sign that’s used in every EFN-Rotary team photo.
The club has already set six Saturday morning dates at EFN for 2024.
And regardless of what they’ll be packing, the members know they’ll be continuing to fight hunger in their community.
Watch this short video of Tacoma Sunrise Rotary club members in action repacking 13,660 pounds of squash and apples at EFN.
BOXING CLUB: Sunrise Rotarians work to build boxes that EFN uses in making food deliveries to people’s homes (Left to right: Doug Glispy, Ravi Jaskar, and Ric Arredondo).
FEELING THEIR OATS: This group photo of the club’s January repack at EFN shows some of the 50-pound bags of Canadian oats that were used in the repack. The oats were repacked into smaller bags, each weighing about two pounds. Volunteers also assembled 1,000 boxes that EFN uses in making home food deliveries.
DYNAMIC DUO: Neal and Karen Veitenhans show two of the more than 1,000 break bags club members helped fill in March to help ensure students in need had some good nourishment over their school’s spring break.
BREAK BAGS: Each bag contained 21 non-perishable food items and weighed about 13 pounds.
SQUASHING HUNGER: Club members Ravi Jaskar and Larry Schlemmer show off two of the hundreds of squashes they handled during the club’s EFN repack on September 23.
APPLE BOXES: Club member Lisa Johnson sits in one of the huge bins that were filled with apples that volunteers repacked in September. Working with her in the background were Joel Anderson and Stacy Blaisdell.