We've been feeding to our hungry neighbors for more than 20 years. As one of Seattle's busiest food banks, we help nourish about 11,000 people most months. We are the only food bank in the heart of Rainier Valley, home to the nation's most ethnically diverse ZIP code and some of the city's lowest-income areas. We offer a rich variety of healthy, fresh and locally-sourced foods. Community donations account for more than half of our funding. Find out more at rvfb.org.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Get your inner do-gooder on this summer
with Rainier Valley Food Bank!

From pre-school to senior citizen, from an hour of work, to an entire day—we have had all types of folks helping us here at the food bank. No matter what the contribution may be, our volunteers are making positive change.

Email volunteer@rvfb.org and tell us what sparks your interests.

Food Distribution Volunteer - Wednesdays and Saturdays 7:30am-2:30pm
Process and distribute food to clients at the food bank. Volunteers will interact with clients, staff and other volunteers, providing excellent customer service to ensure great relationships and a positive atmosphere during distributions. 

Line Host Volunteer -
Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00am-2:00pm
Aid RVFB in distributing healthy food to our hungry neighbors by welcoming guests as they arrive and facilitating them through our line process in a fair, equitable and racist free manner. Strong leadership and conflict resolution experience a must! 

Database Entry Volunteer -
Flexible hours, Tuesday,Thursday & Friday
Data entry support volunteers enter in-kind donations, volunteer applications & hours into Salesforce database at the food bank. This is a great opportunity to gain experience with non-profit fundraising sources, volunteer program systems & databases. Because of training time necessary for this position, you must commit a minimum of 3 months, at least 2 hours a week.

Cantonese Interpreter/Translator -
July 20, 24, 27, & 31. Flexible times, from 8am-2pm
Get to know your community! Help us get to know the community too! Interpret between food guests, staff and volunteers. Ensure food guests are informed correctly of policies and procedures.

July Farmer’s Market Gleaning -
Wednesday evenings in July, 7:00-9pm
Come meet your local farmers! Help collect donated produce and goods after the Columbia City Farmer's Market, for distribution at Rainier Valley Food Bank. Check out the farmer's market here!

Carpenter Volunteer -
Flexible scheduling
Rainier Valley Food Bank is seeking a skilled, self-driven and organized carpenter to build a shelving station to house a food scale. Help us build it! Time Required: Approx. 1 day building and installation. 

Home Delivery Driver -
Thursdays from 9am-1pm - flexible
Deliver food to hungry, homebound folks in Seattle. We’ll work with your schedule! Must have own car and driver’s license. Background check required. 

PCC Packing Party -
Tuesday July 16 & September 17, 7-9pm
Package bulk foods donated from PCC Seward Park. Oats, rice, and beans, oh my! Great group opportunity for youth and adults alike! More info here!

Warehouse Assistant -
Tuesdays Noon-2:30pm, Wednesdays/Saturdays 8:00am-2:00pm
Assist in processing food as donations come into our warehouse, including logging donations and re-portioning bulk items and playing warehouse tetris with our food storage crates!

Check-in Volunteer -
Wednesdays and Saturdays 8:00am-2:00pm Check-in volunteers will be the first friendly face to interact with guests receiving food as they enter our facility. Check-in volunteers ensure that procedures are followed and our database is accurate. 

Seattle Community Farm -
Tuesdays 9am – 1pm, Thursdays 5 – 8pm, and Saturdays 10am – 2pm
Located only a short walk from the food bank, Seattle Community Farm was able to donate 9,000 lbs. of produce to RVFB last year! Come help their greens and yields grow by volunteering, March through November.

Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands (RBUFW) –
Saturdays, 10 am - 3 pm
What was once was a nursery for the City, is slowly merging into a urban community learning farm while simultaneously growing food for RVFB! Group work parties are welcome to drop in every Saturday at RBUFW to learn how to grow food in the city.  

Food Drive Volunteers -
Saturdays 10am-1pm
Want to volunteer while still enjoying the outdoors? Join the food drive crew! Every Saturday we pass out flyers encouraging customers at local grocery stores to donate items to RVFB.  

Group Volunteering -
Here at RVFB, groups have come from all over. Schools, faith-based organizations, corporate companies, and even just groups of like-minded individuals have come to volunteer. If your group is interested, please contact Michele at michelef@rvfb.org.

Questions? Email volunteer@rvfb.org

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Place at the Table - One Nation, Underfed

A Place at the Table is a newly released, compelling documentary about food insecurity in the United States.

Film synopsis: "Fifty million people in the US—including one in four children—don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. In the film, directors Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush examine the issue of hunger in America through the lens of three people struggling with food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother who grew up in poverty and is trying to provide a better life for her two kids; Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader who often has to depend on friends and neighbors to feed her; and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader whose asthma and health issues are exacerbated by the largely empty calories her hardworking mother can afford."


Jeanee Natov, current AmeriCorps VISTA with Rainier Valley Food Bank shares her experience viewing the film:

"Last Friday was the annual Northwest Harvest conference. I literally started out my day with a raw egg and pedaled my way to Mercer Island in the crisp air. I was hesitant to choose the movie screening, “A Place at the Table” as my first session-- maybe it was the immense amounts of coffee and endorphins from that really big hill I biked up or the fact that the relaxing atmosphere of a movie would elicit contagious yawning. I went for it anyway. The food bank staff and my fellow VISTA's joined me, as we shook and nodded our heads in agreement and disapproval, holding back what I felt like could be tears, if not a strong emotional reaction to the events unfolding in this movie.
I was fired up. A wave of ideas on how to help this issue flooded my head. More education, grad school, becoming the next Johnny Appleseed but with kale, martyring myself for the cause, protests, occupations, becoming a politician, photojournalism, personal grants, kickstarters, and more. What can I do? What can I do RIGHT NOW? 
What is the shortest distance towards the biggest change? It seems this is a big question for many of us. I was lucky enough to hear Michael Pollan speak at the Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle a few nights later. A young lady, around my age, stood up in an unsure manner and asked the very same question. While his passion was indescribable, Michael did not have much for an answer, besides the idea that we are only one person, and we can only do so much. However, what you do accomplish is truly great. He also mentioned that one should be a well-rounded individual of the food system revolution. By learning the physical, political, economical, and doing your research as well as the boring paperwork, you can be a big change in this revolution. Learn as much as you can and jump into things that are uncomfortable.
For me, politics make me uncomfortable. I’m not much for confrontation, I can’t keep random statistics in my head, and I like to allow everyone to have their own point of view. Discussing politics is not a hobby of mine. But I now realize, by being fired up and feeling hopeless, it’s time to tackle politics as they relate to food issues. 
So when the dreams in my head of monumental change fell back down to Earth, crashing into reality and the time commitments and hard work that would need to accompany them, I took on this personal, political challenge. I want to be informed on food politics and be able to have a concrete conversation about it with a friend. It will take me some time. Maybe next time you see me, enlighten me about your most pressing political food issue? Or your favorite news source for food politics? Or tell me about the rallies and celebrations of food in our community.
I highly recommend seeing A Place at the Table! It’s perfect for inspiring those who have lost a spark or inspiring those who are already inspired."


  • 1 in 6 Americans don’t have enough to eat.
  • 30% of US families are food insecure.
  • Since 1980, price of produce has increased 40% meanwhile, price of processed food has decreased 40%.
  • Approximately 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts. 75% of food deserts are urban.
  • The US ranks worst among the IMF’s Advanced Economy countries on food insecurity.
  • Nutritional deprivation in first 3 years, however short, can have lifelong impacts on cognitive ability.
  • In 1980 there were 200 food banks in the county.  Today there are over 40,000 food banks, pantries, and soup kitchens.


"Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease." - Source

Visit the USDA Food Desert Locator, and interactive map to help you explore and define food deserts close to home.


Here are some prompting questions from A Place at the Table's Theatrical Discussion Guide. We would love to hear your thoughts via this blog's comments below!
  • 85% of families who are insecure have one working adult in the household.  How do people get out of poverty earning a living wage?
  • According to the film, one in six Americans says they don’t always have enough to eat. Were you aware that hunger was such a big problem in the US?
  • Have you or someone close to you ever struggled to put food on the table? How do/did you deal with that? Where did you turn for help?
  • In the film we learn that in the ‘60s, there was huge push to end childhood hunger that resulted in free breakfast and lunch programs, senior meal programs and the expansion of food stamps. As a result, by the late ‘70s, hunger was basically eradicated. Why do you think hunger has come back as such a pressing issue in our country? Based on what you know about our country’s relationship with food security, do you think ending hunger is a possibility today?
  • Marion Nestle explains that “we are spending $20 billion a year on agricultural subsidies for the wrong food.” If you had $20 billion to address food production, what would you do with it?
Join the converstation! Post your thoughts, comments and questions below. For action ideas and additional information on how you can take your place in the fight to end hunger, visit RVFB.ORG & TAKEPART.COM/TABLE or text FOOD to 77177

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spring is the time to do something BIG - Why you should GiveBIG to the Rainier Valley Food Bank

Today's post was written by Allison Augustyn, RVFB board member and volunteer. 

GiveBIG to RVFB on May 15! http://bit.ly/GiveBigRVFB
"Every week, every year, RVFB provides healthy food when we say we will, keeping our promise to the community without fail."
Everyone here at Rainier Valley Food Bank (RVFB) loves spring; but spring also brings a significant set of challenges to the food bank. After the fervor of the winter holidays and the end-of-year contributions, RVFB sees a sizable dip in donations. A few months into the New Year, the wonderful and generous store of resources begins a slow drop, a “spring slump” for which we must prepare every year.

Many non-profits share in this decline, as donors tend to focus on end-of-year holiday giving and tax deductions. That is a perfectly normal giving trend.

But while many non-profits time their programs to work with the trends of incoming donations, RVFB’s work – meeting hunger insecurity – is never done. RVFB meets the constant need to eat year-round, feeding families and neighbors over the holidays, through the spring slump, and during every other ordinary time of the year as well.
 Every week, every year, RVFB provides healthy food when we say we will, keeping our promise to the community without fail.

We can do this because we are responsible with your donations. RVFB creates budgets and spending plans that make arrangements for the spring slump. We run more food drives, reach out to schools and faith groups, and build innovative fundraisers. We cut spending costs and are currently analyzing ways to improve our already efficient system.

And that’s where GiveBIG comes in. 
GiveBIG is a great way to show your neighbors that you know that hunger is an ongoing battle. GiveBIG in partnership with the Seattle Foundation, stretches your dollars further. And when you donate to RVFB, your donation tells Seattle that RVFB is a good organization that is making a difference. A donation is a vote of confidence that not only replenishes our shelves, but sends a message to staff, volunteers and board – the work we do is important to the community, and important to YOU.

So if you can, do a little spring-cleaning. Turn over the couch cushions and find that spare change. Donate on 
GiveBIG day. See if you can pick up an extra can or two or a few bags of rice on your next trip to the supermarket and bring them into the food bank. Plant a garden and remember that we love fresh produce year-round. And accept our thanks for being a great supporter of an excellent year-round cause. Happy Spring!

To support RVFB, GiveBIG Wednesday, May 15: http://bit.ly/15aBemh. Every donation helps

Monday, May 13, 2013

Time Well Spent

Today’s post was written by Jen Worth, RVFB board member, volunteer and Rainier Valley resident. 

Food matters to me. It’s one of the primary reasons I volunteer regularly with the Rainier Valley Food Bank (RVFB). I care deeply about what I prepare and serve to family and friends and I want every member of my community to have access to quality food that they can be proud to serve to their family and friends.

I give my time to RVFB for two other reasons—it is necessary and it makes a difference. Two key findings from a study entitled Food Banks: Hunger’s New Staple conducted by Feeding America in 2010 illustrate this point.

First, it is necessary—according to the study, emergency food from pantries is no longer being used simply to meet temporary acute food needs. A majority of the clients being served by the Feeding American network (54%) have visited a food pantry in six or more months during the past year. At RVFB, we have seen a similar trend with many of our food guests visiting regularly to put nutritious food on their tables.

Second, it makes a difference—the study indicates that households that are food secure are more likely to include individuals that have used a pantry every month within the past year. Although Feeding America cannot state that this relationship is causal in nature, it is preliminary evidence that food pantry use over longer durations may lower the likelihood of food insecurity. While this point may seem counterintuitive, it means that food banks like RVFB are likely contributing to the ability of folks in these households to have the confidence of knowing where their next meal will come from.

When I see familiar faces month after month at RVFB, I know my time is making a difference. With a little luck, my time combined with that of all the volunteers at RVFB will help us come closer to ending hunger in the Rainier Valley.

Would you consider adding your time or your resources to help RVFB in its mission to end hunger in the Rainier Valley? Believe me when I say it would be time well spent. Learn more about ways you can help by visiting www.rvfb.org. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

GiveBIG is May 15 – Three things you should know!

The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG event is back and we hope you’ll participate in this annual day of giving. Here are three things we want you to know:

1. Set a reminder to donate on May 15. GiveBIG is a 24-hour online fundraising event managed by The Seattle Foundation. Donations must be made between 12:01 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. on the 15th to count toward our total. Bookmark our GiveBIG page now!

2. Your donation goes further on May 15. All donations made through The Seattle Foundation's website on May 15 will receive a percentage of the matching funds (or "stretch pool"). This percentage depends on the size of the stretch pool and how much is raised in total donations on GiveBIG day.

3. Keep up to date with us on FacebookTwitter, and our newsletter! Like, Follow, Subscribe – however you like to receive information, we hope you’ll connect with us to hear the latest about our activities and share your own stories about the food bank!

We know there are many charities in Seattle worthy of your hard-earned money and we thank you for considering Rainier Valley Food Bank! If you have questions about GiveBIG be sure to check out the Seattle Foundation website or contact us.

Friday, March 29, 2013

My Hunger Action Year

By Jeanée Natov

My childhood was filled with trips to churches, community centers, and other drop-off points for surplus food. I spent hours wandering and playing with toys at the Women, Infants, and Children center while my mother took nutrition and parenting classes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 20 percent of families in my hometown with children under 5 years of age lived below the poverty line. My family was one of them.

My father supported a family of four, with two on the way, on an income of $24,000 a year. My mother learned how to use coupons, plan for sales, and shop to provide cheap, healthy meals for her family. I ate a diet of canned, pre-packaged, and frozen foods, and my father worked a garden in our small backyard to provide fresh vegetables. I never realized the magnitude of our economic troubles; however, I know my childhood influenced me to always appreciate what I have.

My family still eats much like we did more than a decade ago. Everything my parents learned about nutrition, smart shopping, and available resources to low-income families, they learned from nonprofits and government programs. Therefore, everything I know about living a happy, healthy and independent life comes from these teachings. Little did I know, these events would mold my choices throughout life and encourage me to always help others.

Before joining the AmeriCorps VISTA program, I was making over $30,000 a year, paying less rent than I do now, and gaining weight by going out to lunch too often. I frolicked in the sunshine with my friends and never worried about my bank account. But at work, I was miserable. I worked as a sales assistant for a corporate organic produce company that provided the most ideal, consistent hours, free lunch 3 times a week, and great coworkers. But I wasn’t doing good things for the world and it left me empty.

RVFB AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Jeanée Natov
I was learning about how to make money for a large company and it wasn’t fulfilling. I didn’t appreciate what I had, take pride in my work and I didn’t feel like I deserved my pay. That’s why I’m taking the food stamp challenge — the same one thousands of people in the Seattle area, including Mayor Mike McGinn, are taking this week as part of United Way of King County's Hunger Action Week. I'm taking my food stamp challenge for an entire year, limiting my food budget to $7 a day.

The AmeriCorps stipend I receive is purposely set under the poverty line, so those serving can experience first-hand how difficult it is to live in poverty. While working at Rainier Valley Food Bank, I not only want to help others gain access to healthy and plentiful food, I want them to take pride in their struggles. It is quite difficult to live such a frugal life, and if you can continue to laugh and love while working hard, you’ve done it right.

As Hunger Action week winds down, I wish all you other food stamp challengers the best of luck. Keep in mind that those who receive food stamps every month, only get the $7 per day (per individual) if it’s a month as long as February, and not on a leap year, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to receive the maximum benefit amount allowed each month. Many people who struggle to feed their families don't receive the maximum amount. We see them every week at the food bank. I'm glad we're here for them.