Feeding Change: Emergency Food Network in Seattle

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Did you know Imperfect partners with food pantries all over the nation? In Washington, we are proud to partner with Emergency Food Network. EFN has been working to reduce hunger since 1982. They coordinate food deliveries and donations to over 71 food pantries in Pierce County and they even grow their own food at Mother Earth Farm.

We sat down with Clair Grubbs, the Development Coordinator at the Emergency Food Network to learn about EFN, the communities they impact, and how they’ve distributed over 80,000 pounds of Imperfect produce to folks in need!

IF: What is the mission of EFN?

CG: The mission of Emergency Food Network (EFN) is to provide Pierce County with a consistent, diverse, and nutritious food supply so that no person goes hungry.

IF: How did EFN get started?

CG: EFN was started in 1982 when leaders in the community recognized a need to resource food collectively. EFN was originally supposed to be a temporary program in response to the downturn of the 1980s, but it became apparent that there was a permanent need for our work and so EFN became an independent 501(c)(3) in 1991 and has been providing food for folks since then.

IF: How many individuals have been impacted by your work?

CG: EFN has a network of 71 food pantries, meal sites, and shelters throughout Pierce County. In 2017, EFN provided our Partner Programs with 14.4 million pounds of food, at no cost to them, so they could serve 1.3 million visitors in need.

IF: How has Imperfect impacted your reach?

CG: Tomatoes, plums, and chard, oh my! EFN picks up donated food from Imperfect Produce every week. The food we receive from Imperfect may not always be pretty, but it’s still healthy and nutritious. We have received 83,093 pounds of food from Imperfect this year. That’s the same weight as 6 elephants!

IF: Where do Imperfect donations go?

CG: Imperfect donations go to food pantries throughout Pierce County. Our partners are located in large cities, like Tacoma, and rural communities, like Eatonville. Each month, our Partner Programs serve 113,000 visitors and send them home with enough food for nine meals.

IF: How can folks get involved?

CG: EFN relies on over 3,000 volunteers each year at our Lakewood Distribution Center, Mother Earth Farm, and special events. We also host fundraising events, like Empty Bowls, which connect individuals to our work.

IF: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about EFN?

CG: Food rescue is a passion at EFN. We made history when we rescued food from the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course. We know that there is enough food for our neighbors in need, we just need to find it and ensure that it goes to people instead of going into the trash. That, plus generous donations, makes our work possible. EFN distributes $12 worth of food for every $1 that we receive. When you support companies like Imperfect, you’re helping your neighbors in need get the nutritious food we all need!

Want to get involved? We’ll be volunteering at Mother Earth Farm on August 24th. Join us!

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