It’s a good time to be a foodie in Eastern Washington. Our region boasts family-owned grocery chains, and new farmers markets open every year. Spokane is teeming with trendy coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Walla Walla has established itself as a wine destination. For generations, wheat from the Palouse has fed people halfway around the world.
But in Eastern Washington, tens of thousands of people do not have enough to eat. The technical term for this problem is “food insecurity.” According to Feeding America, a nationwide food bank network, “food insecurity describes a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life.”
At Catholic Charities, we would say human dignity means having enough to eat to go to work and school and to enjoy spending time with family.
Eastern Washington is Hungry
Our region includes two of Washington’s four hungriest, or most food insecure, counties. In Whitman County, nearly one in five residents — 18.3 percent (8,760 people) — do not have enough to eat. Hunger is almost as severe in Ferry County, where 18 percent (1,360 people), are food insecure.
In Spokane County, almost 70,000 people are hungry—including 22,000 children. Although that’s only 14.1 percent of the population, it’s well above the state average of 11.5 percent. (Data are drawn from Feeding America’s project Map the Meal Gap.)
Catholic Charities Programs Help Feed our Region
Catholic Charities is proud to operate programs in partnership with other local food-focused nonprofits to combat hunger for seniors, children and low-income families in Eastern Washington.
Food For All’s farmers market programs create opportunities tailored to help low-income seniors, children and families and individuals buy fresh produce. Programs provide vouchers and match money customers spend using a SNAP/EBT card at farmers markets.
Senior Services’ Volunteer Chore Services program matches clients who are elderly or living with disabilities with volunteers who drive them to the grocery store and help them shop. Through the Brown Bag Commodities program, volunteers deliver nonperishable staple items to clients’ doorsteps twice a month.
Some of our programs that do not focus on food also help clients who are food-insecure. St. Margaret’s Shelter maintains a food pantry for residents who have run out of SNAP/EBT benefits. Parish Social Ministry provides one-time payments to help clients pay for groceries. At the Christmas Bureau, recipients receive a food voucher to help pay for a holiday meal .
Do You Want to Help Address Food Insecurity? Then Dig In!
On Thursday, August 22, Catholic Charities will host our second annual Dig In event to benefit our food security programs. The event will feature locally-sourced beverages, dinner by a Spokane chef and educational, interactive stations.
When: 6–9 p.m. on Thursday, August 22, 2019
Where: The Washington Cracker Co. Building, 304 W. Pacific Ave., Spokane, WA 99201
Register online — we hope to see you there!