This past weekend, members of the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl 48 championship team joined local volunteers and organizations to kick off the Back To Action campaign at local Seattle-area food banks, including the White Center Food Bank.
Other locations included the Lynnwood Food Bank, University District Food Bank, Issaquah Food Bank, Rainier Valley Food Bank, and at the Partners in Change Resource Fair at Green River College.
Lingering disruptions from the recent pandemic have resulted in a critical decline in volunteers at food banks throughout Washington state. The decrease in public involvement has challenged food distribution efforts at the exact moment when food insecurity across the state is growing, and more families and individuals are facing hunger.
In response to this concerning decline in volunteerism, a unique partnership has formed with the goal of boosting the number of people volunteering at local food banks. Under the campaign “Back To Action,” Northwest Harvest, Safeway, Washington Food Coalition, Vault89 Strategies, the Seattle Seahawks, and KING 5 have banded together to support the vital work of food banks throughout the state of Washington by sponsoring a drive to bring volunteers back to help in this crucial effort.
“The ongoing effects of the pandemic have created a crisis of food insecurity across the state,” said Josette Gonzales, volunteer program manager at Northwest Harvest. “While the need for food remains high, we are struggling to find volunteers to help distribute the food. We can supply enough food, but it will go to waste without the critical volunteer help we depend on to get it into the hands of those who need it most. This is a state with a tradition of community involvement, and I’m thrilled that organizations, private companies, and our iconic NFL team have joined with us to alert people to the need for volunteers. With their help, and the help of our communities around the state, we can end this volunteer shortage and work to end food insecurity.”
Below are some photos from the kick-off event (click arrows or swipe your finger to view slideshow):
Background and Urgent Need
Washington State is not alone. Across the country, food banks have faced significant challenges in recruiting and retaining volunteers. This shortage comes at a time when demand on food banks is increasing. With rising food costs, the need for food bank services has been surging, intensifying the existing volunteer shortage.
Food security efforts are dependent on volunteers. According to data obtained by ABC News, volunteer rates for food banks have seen a massive decline, as high as 80% in some places. Volunteers are needed to repackage large, bulk donations of items, such as rice, into smaller, family-sized servings. They are also required for translation services, to help organize, sort, and store the intake of donations, to staff calling centers to organize donations, and, most importantly, to help distribute the food to those in need. In Washington, volunteers are needed to perform all of these jobs and more.
A Day of Service
The drive for more volunteers kicked off with a Back To Action Day of Service on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 and will run through Dec. 31, 2023. The goal of the drive is to sign up 3,000 or more food bank volunteers for Hunger Resource Organizations across the state.
“We all have a role to play in making our communities stronger and healthier,” said Doug Baldwin, Jr, Vault89 CEO & Member of the Seahawks Super Bowl 48 Championship Team. “So many in the region came together to support our Super Bowl Championship team and now we are asking everyone to come together again to support those who have always been there for our communities – local food banks. Our local volunteerism can pay dividends in the near term while having a lasting impact for generations to come.”
Through volunteering, the Seahawks hope to inspire individuals to unite behind a common purpose of reinforcing the food banking ecosystem and set an example that volunteering to defeat food insecurity is a team sport.
“Serving our community is one of the Seahawks’ biggest priorities,” said Mario Bailey, Seahawks Vice President of Community Engagement and Legends. “We are proud to come together with Vault89 Strategies, Safeway, KING 5, Northwest Harvest, the Washington Food Coalition, and our other partner organizations on this vital call for volunteers to support our local food banks. We encourage all our fans to join us as we work to create greater food equity across our region.”
Sign up to volunteer at your local food bank to support the Back To Action campaign at backtoaction.co or scan the QR code below.