2nd Harvest gets $4.4 million in CARES Act funding

SPOKANE, Wash. — 1 in 8 people struggle to put food on the table in the Inland Northwest, according to 2nd Harvest. $4.4 million in CARES Act funding, approved by Spokane County commissioners, is aimed to help the growing need.

$4 million will go to buying food. 2nd Harvest said they usually have a lot of grocers donate food, but they said they’ve been relying on federal money recently.

“The need is tremendous,” said Eric Williams, Community Partnerships Director of 2nd Harvest. “Since the pandemic, we’ve seen 114% increase in the need.”

William said they’re the food bank for food banks. Since early March, they’ve given out about 465,000 pounds a week. That weight equals out to about 32 school buses.

The food goes to nearly 100 non-profit agencies and about 100 schools in Spokane County.

More than $300,000 will go to the cost of off-site storage.

“We’re actually going to have to procure storage space to have a place to put that food while our warehouse in drawn down,” Williams explained. “Our warehouse is chock-full, but we also know particularly with some of the programs that are gonna go away towards the end of the year we’re going to need a lot more food.”

One program Williams mentioned is USDA’s Farmers to Families. The program provides food boxes to families. President Trump announced additional funding up to $1 billion.

“USDA continues to review proposals received for the upcoming third round, and will issue additional agreements in the near future, with subsequent contracts to deliver food boxes the remainder of September and through October 31,” the agency in a press release.

With programs dwindling, Williams said they’re preparing for an increase when it comes to the need for food.

“Our projections are it’s going to be at least as high as it has been,” he said, “and probably higher over the next several months.”

About $60,000 of the money will go to fuel and freight costs.

Food for families isn’t the only thing on their radar. Williams said in December, the National Guard will start demobilizing.

Currently, the Spokane facility has 60 military men and women that rotate shifts. Food packaging, distributing and more will be left to the volunteers, which is where you can help.

“Our Volunteer Center team is already planning for the transition that will come with the Guard’s demobilization,” Williams said, “and we’re extremely thankful for the help the National Guard has provided.”

At the moment, they have four rounds of food sorting a day, with 14 volunteers per sort.

In June, Spokane County approved CARES Act funding, but nowhere near September’s amount.

The organization got around $2.1 million. About $1.75 million was used to buy food.

“Our world has been flipped upside down,” Williams said. “We’re working really hard and really appreciate our partners and the generosity of the community in helping us make sure that people have food on their tables.”

To sign up to volunteer, click here.

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