Seattle's Child

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Rainier Food Bank

(Photo from Rainier Valley Food Bank)

As demand surges, food bank plans expansion

Rainier Valley Food Bank needs volunteers to meet growing need in Seattle.

Rainier Valley Food Bank, the Seattle area’s most in-demand food bank, has acquired a new building. And now that it will have more space for future shoppers at the food bank, for staff and for donations, it’s looking for more volunteers too.

“The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating. As a result, our service area expanded and our demographic became more diverse,” says  Gloria Hatcher-Mays, the executive director of the Rainier Valley Food Bank. “Our humble 1200 square foot facility – the same we’ve been in for the past 25 years – limited our ability to fully serve those in need.”

“A new community space has been our dream that is finally becoming a reality. We are deeply grateful to those who have helped us secure a new site deep in the heart of the Rainier Valley.”

“The Rainier Valley Food Bank has served this community for so long, and incredibly rose to the challenge when demand for food grew exponentially due to the pandemic,” says Washington State Sen. Rebecca Saldaña. 

During the pandemic, the food bank had to make a sudden pivot since it could no longer allow shoppers inside to get food supplies. The food bank relied on home deliveries, which grew from 200 to 1,000 a week. Demand for to-go food bags also grew, from 300 to 600 per week.

Meanwhile, the Backpack Program for South Seattle schools expanded in the pandemic to cover 14 sites. (Eleven schools were involved in the program pre-pandemic.) Fortunately, volunteer support from the community surged during this time with more than 500 new volunteers. The Backpack Program, with backpacks packed by teachers and other volunteers, ensures that more than 1,600 at-risk students will have access to bags filled with nutritious food.

How to get involved

If you need food assistance, you can learn more about how the program works at the services page, or you can text FOOD to (833) 744-0096 and a staff member or volunteer will help you. You can email the food bank at All food from the food bank is currently being delivered or packed up in to-go bags.

To learn more about how to help the Rainier Valley Food Bank with food and money donations, go to the donations page.

To apply to volunteer at the food bank or to get involved in the Backpack Program at schools, go to the Rainier Valley Food Bank volunteer page.  (Any child under 13 can come to the food bank and volunteer with a parent or guardian who is volunteering.)

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About the Author

Jillian O'Connor

Jillian O’Connor is managing editor of the Seattle's Child print magazine. She lives in Seattle with her husband, two sons and a dog named after the Loch Ness Monster.