Serving with Pike Place Food Bank

Dakota Navrkal, Sophomore

             The Pike Place Food Bank is an organization that brings food in and is able to offer it to those who are struggling with hunger, homelessness, etc. They really enjoy depend, and welcome volunteers to help distribute the food. Since there are extreme amounts of food and consumers, volunteers help make a huge difference. Most of the food-almost all of it is either donated or retrieved from stores/ businesses that are getting rid of old/unused food. They set up a system where the customers walk through the line and grab the food they want or need. Since there are so many people that go through, people wait just outside. They in shifts it seemed like. It is a great thing they do offering this opportunity to obtain food for those who would otherwise (and still do) struggle to make it out in the world.

When we first arrived, we helped get things ready for the day. There were many tasks to be completed to have a smoothly run operation. Some of us set food out on the shelves, while others carried and retrieved the food altogether. Some of us actually went up to Pike Place Market to go to the stores and retrieve the unused or leftover food and brought it back down to the food bank. Sometime before it opened we had to prepare bags of food to be shipped and delivered to those who are not able to make it to the food bank, whether it be for physical or perhaps mental disability. We took these bags and walked through the line as if we were the customers and filled the bags with the food making sure each one had a variety and supplemental amount of nutritional value. Once the customers were there and it was time for them to come through, we all contributed by working our own separate stations. We helped and patrolled that each person received the correct amount of each respective item. At the end we helped put things away and returned items/food where they needed to go.

This was probably one of the best experiences I have had on the trip. Seeing the people come through and helping them meant a lot to me. It was definitely an eye-opening experience that will stick with me for a long time. I learned so much about the people of Seattle, the people who run organizations like this, and even myself.  Everyone needs help in some way, shape, or form at some point. It can be tough to live in this world. The people who need theses food banks do appreciate them. The people who run the food banks appreciate the volunteers. The community here loves to help and by donating food shows the respect the restaurants have as well. It is a close and helping community. I learned how lucky I am. I take too many things for granted and I am incredibly thankful for the life I have and everything or person in it.

Marissa Tran, Sophomore

             In the heart of the famous Pike Market, unknown to a lot of people, is Pikes Place Food Bank. This food bank serves over 400 people who are hungry and in need of some extra help in terms of food. I have never before seen a food bank as large as this one. There were pounds and pounds of fruits, veggies, meats, bread, and of course dessert that were donated from local restaurants and grocery stores like Whole Foods. Being able to see the organized process of getting the food from the providers to those in need was amazing. The volunteers of Pikes food bank had a happiness and enthusiasm I have never seen before! I got to work with a feisty old Pilipino woman named Luz. She taught me the ways of the food bank, how to bag pastries for maximum satisfaction, and even how to defend ones self! I was able to package and hand out desserts at the pastry section, while others in my group were making food bags for home delivery or handing out fruits and veggies. It was eye opening to see how many people young, old, homeless, or just trying to make ends meet come in for some food. It was extremely difficult to see some of the elderly come in and leave with bags so full of food they could barely lift them out of the building. I even carried one elderly woman’s bag 4 blocks to her bus stop just to relive her of some of the pain her bags were causing her. That moment was surreal for me, leaving the busy pikes market with an elderly woman’s arm through mine. We were surrounded by trendy tourists who had no idea that just through one set of doors, there were people struggling to stay fed. It’s hard to see how people could be so unaware of what is going on right beneath their noses. Being able to learn about hunger and sustainability in Seattle has been an incredible learning experience, one that I will always remember and cherish.