Sodexo workers pack it in at Northwest Harvest warehouse

Volunteers from Sodexo

Volunteers from Sodexo

More than 70 employees from Sodexo, Inc., of Seattle, packaged nearly 6,000 pounds of corn-on-the-cob during a volunteer project last week at the nonprofit Northwest Harvest food-bank distribution warehouse in Kent.

The volunteers spent an hour repacking frozen corn donated by Seattle-based National Frozen Foods for distribution to nearly 300 food banks and meal programs throughout the state. Hirai Farms, of Eastern Washington, grew the corn and worked with National Frozen Foods on the donation.

“What you do is so important,” Claire Acey, director of communications for Northwest Harvest, told the volunteers before they started work. “We can buy in bulk, but we require volunteers to pack the corn into smaller bags so the food banks can use it.”

Sodexo is a food and facilities management company that contracts with Amazon.com, Seattle Pacific University and numerous other businesses and schools to provide dining services. The company also has an ongoing Stop Hunger program to help fight hunger across the nation.

“This cooperative effort is a wonderful farm-to-table illustration of how growers, food processors, volunteers and distributors work together to meet the needs of the hungry across the state,” said Shelley Rotondo, Northwest Harvest executive director, in a media release. “We’re facing unprecedented need right now and we need their help more than ever.”

Requests for food has jumped nearly 20 percent per month this year at food banks across the state compared to last year.

“We had 500,000 services per month last year,” Acey said. “A service is every time someone comes into a food bank. We are now at 600,000 services per month.”

Northwest Harvest is funded by private donations from individuals, businesses, foundations and other organizations. The company distributes nearly 18 million pounds of food each year and spends 93 percent of its budget directly to food distribution. Much of the food is stored at the Kent warehouse because most food banks lack storage space.

The volunteers from Sodexo packed the frozen corn into 20-pound boxes. Northwest Harvest will distribute those boxes of corn to food banks when it receives requests.

“We emphasize food with great nutritional value,” Acey said. “About 60 percent of what we do is fruits and vegetables. Sending out good nutritional food helps make a difference.”

More than 46,000 volunteer hours were donated by people of all ages to Northwest Harvest last year. Numerous businesses, churches, schools and other groups work with Northwest Harvest to help package food.

Northwest Harvest opened a 94,000-square foot warehouse in December 2007 in Kent. The company, which has been fighting hunger in the state since 1967, previously distributed food out of a Seattle warehouse. For information about helping Northwest Harvest, go to www.northwestharvest.org or call 206-625-0755.


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