Market Social Services on the COVID-19 Frontline

Pike Place Market Foundation

When the Market plunged into an unprecedented shutdown, COVID-19 exposed deep gaps in our social, and health and systems, all of which contribute to the cycle of poverty that many of our neighbors experience. Our agency partners sprung into action to support the Market community, as the medical clinic, food bank, senior center, senior housing, preschool and assisted living continued to serve tens of thousands of our neighbors and meet emerging needs.


During this time, the Market Foundation invested more than $2 million in unrestricted grants to our legacy partners in the Market. We also added $270,000 and counting in additional emergency funds to cover unexpected operating costs due to COVID-19.

Read more about how each of our partners pivoted and deployed emergency programs in our neighborhood:

Access to fresh, affordable produce is rooted in the history of Pike Place Market and is essential to the health of our community. The pandemic presented new challenges for the Market’s residents, workers and neighbors living on low incomes to access the food they needed.

The Pike Market Senior Center continued to open daily for free breakfast, lunch, and offered a new to-go meal service. While the Senior Center could no longer host in-person activities, they launched exercise programs online for seniors to stay active at home. They led a city-wide effort to produce 14 hour-long television programs, called AgeWise TV, for seniors who lack internet access. Staff also made outreach calls to check in on isolated members of the community in a variety of languages.

The Pike Market Food Bank, fresh off of converting to a grocery store model, set up a take away window for the hundreds of people who need groceries every week. Through their quick flexibility, the Food Bank was able to continuously provide fresh produce and shelf-ready foods for so many Market families and downtown neighbors. The Market Foundation worked directly with the Food Bank to launch an Emergency Food Distribution Program, ensuring that senior residents in the Market had access to groceries or meals without leaving their homes.

Neighborcare Health at the Market, a community health clinic serving downtown patients, was on the frontline of providing new COVID-19 testing in shelters and low-income housing buildings throughout downtown. Neighborcare Health’s Homeless Programs Team worked closely with housing, community, and public health partners to address the many emerging COVID-19 related needs for people experiencing homelessness in permanent supportive housing, on the street, and in shelter settings.

We know that the pandemic is still evolving, and will continue to have a long-lasting impact on the health of our neighborhood. The staff at Neighborcare continue to address these health inequalities by increasing social connections, reducing barriers to health care, and improving access, education and advocacy for all members of our community.

Heritage House at the Market, serving seniors in need of assisted living, had to go into total lockdown when the pandemic started. They kept residents safe by providing one-on-one care, delivering meals, adapting healthcare visits to telehealth and family visits to video chats, and implementing other safety and sanitation measures.


Since the pandemic hit, childcare centers nationwide have closed, and the cost of providing care continues to climb. Without the annual grants and additional COVID support, Pike Market Childcare & Preschool could have faced the same fate. 
Instead, they were able to continue providing access to high-quality early learning and the tuition assistance program that benefits up to 70% of attending families. The Preschool also worked to increase the pay for teachers and provide livable wages during this critical time. Health and safety measures remain a top priority to keep kids, teachers and families safe.

The Market Commons and their focus on our healthy community model has been critical to both identify and pivot to meet the emerging needs of the Market community. The Commons temporarily closed to in-person activities and walk-up resource navigation in March 2020, but continued to provide resource assistance and regular social check-ins with community members via phone and email. The Commons staff constantly monitored changing and emerging resources in order to provide the most up to date resource referrals.

Though they have since reopened for in-person resource navigation and activities, the team continues to monitor changes to COVID conditions and resource opportunities in order to provide the most effective support to community members.

We express our gratitude to the people working on the frontlines of the pandemic in all of our partner agencies as they responded to one of the biggest crises in Market history. It has been a huge team effort to keep the Market safe, healthy and vibrant.

We know the pandemic is still evolving, and the impacts continue to be long-lasting. The Pike Place Market Foundation is dedicated to providing long-term, consistent funding to continue supporting our partner organizations year over year and emergency needs as they arise.

Help us keep the Market strong with continued support!