An endless line of vehicles snaked their way through Edmonds College parking lot Saturday morning as the Lynnwood Food Bank and Salvation Army partnered to distribute a week’s worth of free food to local families in need.
Nearly 750 families — 3,267 individual residents — received free boxes of fresh produce, nonperishables and sports drinks at the food bank’s drive-thru food distribution. The Salvation Army has been partnering with churches across the state to hold food drives.
Families who visited the pick-up site had their vehicles filled with boxes containing enough food to feed a family of four for roughly a week, according to Captain Jonathan Harvey, General Secretary of the Salvation Army in the Northwest.
“We believe we’re better together, so as the community pulls together, we thought it was better that organizations pull together too,” he said. “We believe that we can provide much better support to each family by pooling our resources”
The Salvation Army provided fresh vegetables, salad, non-perishable foods and Powerade. The goal was to give families quality nutrition rather than some snacks and a few cans of food, Harvey said, adding that the food would not have been possible without donations from the community.
“As an organization we survive predominately on the support of our local community and it’s because of that generosity we’re able to pack these boxes,” he said.
This was the first joint partnership between the Lynnwood Food Bank and the Salvation Army, but Director Alissa Jones said it was a natural fit.
“I’ve been involved with the Salvation Army my whole life,” she said. “My parents were actually Salvation Army ministers and my husband works for the Salvation Army emergency disaster in Seattle.”
As business shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic caused staggering job losses across the state, food banks have reported a record number of people seeking assistance. In Lynnwood, Jones said the number of first-time visitors is up 40% since last year.
Other partners for Saturday’s food drive included the Verdant Health Commission, which donated fresh produce, and WAGRO Foundation, which serves Latinx communities in Washington state and Mexico. WAGRO was founded by Lynnwood City Councilmember Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, who was onsite handing out free face masks provided by the City of Lynnwood and the food bank.
Altamirano-Crosby and her daughter Daniela distributed 4,341 masks to community members as they made their way to the food distribution lines.
Volunteers from the food bank, Salvation Army, Neighbors in Need, WAGRO and Silver Creek Family Church were also at the distribution loading boxes of food into vehicles and directing traffic.
The Lynnwood Food Bank has partnered with several other local nonprofits and similar agencies to provide continued assistance to residents not only locally but from other cities and counties. In addition to assisting with the Saturday food distribution, the Lynnwood Food Bank has hosted free emergency dental care and COVID-19 testing.
“We want to be able to help our community, and anything that’s related to health just seems like it goes hand in hand with food,” Jones said. “COVID is not a food issue, but it’s still a health issue and whatever we can do to help, we’re trying.”
The Lynnwood Food Bank, located at 5320 176th St. SW in Lynnwood, distributes food Wednesdays from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. To ensure social distancing, those receiving food must remain in their vehicles. For more information, visit the food bank’s Facebook page.
The Snohomish Health District will be at the Lynnwood Food Bank Tuesday, July 14, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to offer free COVID-19 testing. Testing is available by appointment, which can be scheduled here.
For more photos from Saturday’s food distribution, view the gallery below:
–Story and photos by Cody Sexton