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New Year, New Food Bank

Posted January 10, 2020

The Pike Market Food Bank has seen the need for food security grow quickly – service levels have nearly doubled in the past four years, from 37,000 bags of groceries given out in 2016 to over 67,000 bags in 2019!

Pike Market Food Bank staff looked to the national shifts in food bank systems and started to plan out an exciting new model with the help of our AmeriCorps VISTA program. Over the past three years, these VISTA volunteers assessed the systems currently in place. They looked at improvements for the organization of the Food Bank’s inventory, how staff and volunteer roles were shaped, and what kind of model could allow for a more efficient and shopper-friendly experience.

Fresh produce is always available for the thousands of shopper that come in every week

After all their hard work, our partners at the Pike Market Food Bank are thrilled to introduce the new “grocery-store model”, creating a more dignified experience for more than 1,000 shoppers who come in each week.

“We’re really excited to unveil changes that will increase access and efficiency and provide a better experience for our shoppers,” said Stella Jones, manager of the Pike Market Food Bank.

We’re proud to report the Market Foundation has supported this project since its inception! The VISTAs’ work was made possible through funds secured by the Market Foundation in partnership with the AmeriCorps VISTA program; the re-design itself was funded through a PCC Market grant and through Rachel’s Reserve, a Market Foundation grant given to special projects to improve the Market neighborhood. This grant was able to fully covered the costs of the Food Bank’s transition into the grocery-store model, so that they could start the decade anew.

Shoppers can choose produce on their own in the grocery-store model

The grocery-store model allows for a far more relaxed atmosphere, in which shoppers can focus on their individual choices, talk to staff and volunteers about healthy options, and drop in during the expanded operating hours without the fear of running out of food.

Even better – by re-orienting the Food Bank into the grocery-store model, there can be a greater focus on client interaction and connection. “This remodel allows our staff and volunteers to spend more time and energy engaging with clients and creating relationships and community with clients,” said Emma Sadinsky, Volunteer Coordinator at the Food Bank. “They don’t have to feel stressed by imposing limits on shoppers.”

The remodel opened in January and the first two weeks of service have exceeded expectations. We’ll know more about the impact on service distribution and the Market community in the year ahead. To see the new Food Bank and experience the grocery-store model firsthand, we encourage you to sign up with us as a volunteer by emailing info@pikeplacemarketfoundation.org

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