September may have been national Hunger Action Month, but in Pierce County, November is when the action gets into high gear.
Contributions are especially important this year. The 67 Pierce County food banks, meal sites and shelters have experienced a record amount of need that will only increase during the upcoming holidays.
By the end of September, they had had 1 million client visits – 60,000 more than in 2011, says Emergency Food Network executive director Helen McGovern. She notes that many of those clients are picking up food for an entire family, so the actual number of people needing assistance is even greater. Children home from school over the holidays won’t be getting their free and reduced-price meals, putting yet more pressure on low-income families.
In weeks to come, several worthy events offer opportunities to help the hungry by either donating food or cash. The EFN can distribute $12 worth of food with each $1 donated. Please consider taking part in at least one of the following events:
• Vessels: This juried art show and auction at 6 p.m. Nov. 16 gives participants a chance to bid on three-dimensional artwork, with half the proceeds going to the artists and half to EFN. The $25 admission includes wine and hors d’oeuvres. The event is held at the Charles Wright Academy Performing Arts Center.
• Empty Bowls: This hugely popular event will be held the day after Vessels, Nov. 17, at Charles Wright from 1-3:30 p.m. The purchase of a locally crafted bowl – think holiday gifts! – enables you to try soups from several different local restaurants. Proceeds go to the EFN.
• All through November, the LeMay – America’s Car Museum is teaming up with Northwest Harvest. The museum will collect nonperishable food items in its lobby between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily through Nov. 30. Donate two or more items and get $2 off admission to the museum. Children 12 and under get in free with two or more items.
• The third annual Fallen Officers Food Drive runs from Nov. 29 through Dec. 6; it aims to raise $50,000 and 50,000 pounds of food. Last year’s drive took in $35,000 and 39,000 pounds of food. The event honors the memory of the four Lakewood Police Department officers killed in the line of duty in 2009: Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Ronald Owens and Greg Richards.
Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord will receive donations at the Lakewood Police Department headquarters at 9401 Lakewood Drive SW. Donations can also be dropped off at Ace Hardware in Lakewood, any Heritage Bank, Washington State Employees Credit Union locations, the Old Milwaukee Cafe in Tacoma and the Blue Steel Coffee Co. in Parkland (where Renninger, Griswold, Owens and Richards were shot).
Donations of peanut butter, stew, canned tuna, infant formula and diapers are especially welcome. Again this year, generous Puget Sounders can turn a cold season warm by helping to feed the less fortunate among us.