Second Harvest partners with the WA National Guard, sponsoring a food pantry at the fairgrounds

SPOKANE, Wash. — Eastern Washington is starting to reopen, but food insecurity still plagues a lot people in Spokane County.

“We certainly know that even come this spring, this summer, while things are opening up, the need for food, particularly for kids is really going to continue to be high,”
Eric Williams, the Community Partnerships Director for Second Harvest, said.

To address this problem, Second Harvest partnered with the WA National Guard to host a food pantry at the county fairgrounds with enough food packed to feed 750 families. This mobile market is virtually contact free. Cars roll up, pop their trunk and roll away with boxes of fresh produce, dry goods and frozen food. Recipients don’t have to meet any qualifications and can pick up for multiple families. Williams wants everyone to know there’s nothing to be embarrassed about coming to a food pantry because the past year has been brutal on everyone.

“This has hit so many people so hard across so many demographics, and we want to do whatever we can to get food to them,” Williams said.

With more people wondering where they’ll get their next meal from, the National Guard’s partnership has been a major help for Second Harvest because they’ve lost volunteers, and people aren’t allowed at the warehouse as much to pick up food. The Guard’s played a big role in sorting and packaging the food that goes out across Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

“The National Guard has been just a godsend for us during this pandemic because the need has grown substantially,” Williams said. “The National Guard folks are really good at what they do. You want to talk about people who are efficient and organized and courteous, they’re great.”

Lorena Calderon visits food pantries whenever she can. Her daughter’s teachers always tell her where and when they’ll be, and she usually picks up food for her and her mom. She’s grateful for the chance to get some help putting food on the table.

“Thank you. Thank you very much for their [the National Guard’s] service and what they do for us because there’s a lot of us, and we struggle for food, and they’re literally outside standing in the cold,” Calderon said.

She used to be nervous to come to these events but encourages anyone who’s struggling to make the choice to come out because it’s a major help.

“Don’t be shy. Come along, and get some food. It helps you,” Calderon said.

Second Harvest has stepped up to meet the increased need for food assistance since COVID hit. In 2019, the organization only sponsored 141 mobile markets. Last year, they ran 463 mobile markets.

If you missed today’s food pantry, you can find a full list of local pantries here.

READ: Spokane food pantry in search of families to feed gets its wish