When the stay-at-home order was implemented in March, our community services came together quickly to ensure that everyone in the neighborhood has access to the food they need while staying safe. Through a close collaboration between PDA residential managers, the Pike Market Senior Center + Food Bank and The Market Commons, our community has been provided equitable and easy access to nutritious meals and grocery bags.
The Market Commons Implements Their Emergency Food Response
The Market Commons launched an Emergency Food Distribution Program to ensure senior residents in the Market had access to groceries or meals without leaving their homes. In closing their doors, they transformed The Commons into a miniature food bank.
They packed emergency grocery bags of shelf-stable food so that residents would have a steady supply while remaining quarantined. For residents who were unable to cook for themselves, The Commons worked with the PDA Residential team to deliver 21 pre-cooked meals per week.
“Thank you so much for the meals,” said a Market resident. “This has really taken a lot of stress off about whether or not to go out and how to safely get food.”
When operating the program from March to September, The Market Commons staff delivered 989 emergency food bags and 15,737 emergency meals.
The Pike Market Food Bank Pivots To Provide Groceries Safely
In early 2020, the Pike Market Food Bank was excited to unveil a grocery distribution model to create a relaxed and dignified environment for their shoppers. When lockdown hit in March 2020, the hard-working staff and volunteers quickly pivoted to a take-away window for the families and individuals in need of groceries every week.
“There were no cut hours. The Food Bank didn’t blink – they went right to re-adjusting services and stepping up for the community.” said Mason Lowe, Deputy Director of the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank.
They also ensured the values behind their grocery-store model could still be applied to their current services. With the take-away window comes the ability for shoppers to have a safely distanced one-on-one dialogue with staff as their grocery bags are filled.
“While we wanted to provide the grocery service experience in 2020, we are still giving them the same intention of choice with the concierge service and good quality food from our front door,” explains Mason.
There’s been a noticeable number of new faces and local addresses added to the Food Bank’s shopper list as unemployment in the city has risen. But The Food Bank is maintaining their food donation streams and allowing anyone in need with the opportunity to receive fresh groceries and non-perishable items. Since the shutdown Market residents and downtown neighbors have made 24,898 visits to the Food Bank, where they can access fresh produce, shelf-stable food, and ready-to-eat options for shoppers experiencing homelessness.
The Senior Center’s Daily Meal Service Stays In Place
As places closed across the city in early March, the Pike Market Senior Center didn’t skip a beat in providing their vital meal services. Known in the neighborhood for daily breakfast and lunch programs where members can gather, the Senior Center quickly transitioned in COVID-19 times to serve take-away meals. They are open every day to give out nutritious meals for anyone age 55 or older. Since March, they’ve served 18,793 meals to the community.
The staff continue to offer space for members experiencing homelessness to safely eat indoors and use restroom services. “It’s especially nice for members experiencing homelessness to come in and wash their hands and have access to a clean restroom,” said Deputy Director Mason Lowe, “There’s almost nowhere for people experiencing homelessness to go. But everyone deserves a peaceful place to eat and somewhere they feel welcome.”
The Market Commons Retains Their Low-Barrier Food Access Program
Pike Place Market is famous for its fresh produce sourced from local farmers. It is crucial that community members of every income level can have access to this nutritional food. As COVID-19 became a longer-term fixture in our lives, the team at The Market Commons has worked to connect these residents to more permanent food support resources.
One such program is the summer CSA produce boxes, where participants receive a weekly box of farm fresh produce at little to no cost. The team at The Commons was able to create a safe yet welcoming no-contact pickup to ensure that Market seniors, families, and neighbors could still enjoy the locally grown goodies. This is especially important in these times when many Market Community members are struggling to access the food they need due to the impacts of COVID-19.
“We definitely eat more produce now, it’s just too expensive otherwise,” says a community member who receives the CSA box, “And everything is so fresh and delicious!”
Access to fresh, healthy food for our neighbors has always been at the heart of the mission of the Market and this value extends to every member of the community, regardless of their income or ability to pay.