By Donald Lachman, Special Projects Coordinator, and Andrea Talmadge, Regional Coordinator
As you may have noticed, “sticker shock” has been on the rise lately! Escalating food and fuel prices are a trial experienced regularly by many of our community members. As we know, it can be particularly stressful for the people we serve at WestCare where many have a modest income as they manage through recovery from serious social and health risks.
In the fall of 2021, WestCare Foundation’s Interim Vice President of Grants, Lisa Jackson, shared details on opportunities for food security partnerships with major grocery outlets including Safeway and Albertsons. Acting on her information, we reached out to their local Public Affairs Representative, Sara Osborn. We provided Sara a stream of messages and pictures describing WestCare Washington/WAServes’ efforts with community partners to reduce food insecurity among Veterans and members of their households.
We informed Sara of our success in coordinating a growing network of organizations and people who are dedicated to improving the lives of our nation’s Veterans.
We described WestCare Washington’s unique capacity to connect our clients to a significant and often unclaimed inventory of benefits, pensions, and resources exclusively available to Veterans. We described to her our success as we employ gift cards and other resources as temporary bridges, allowing us time to connect clients with a mix of community and Veteran specific resources.
In response, she invited our team to apply for participation in a regional food partnership where members receive and distribute grocery gift cards provided by the employees of Safeway and Albertsons. We hoped to receive several thousand dollars in gift cards to share with our clients and partners. We figure every dollar helps!
In late January, our donation of gift cards finally arrived. Andrea and I experienced unexpected joy and demonstration of community generosity. We did not receive the $6,000 in grocery gift cards we had expected – instead, we were blessed with over $60,000!
We worked closely with our network of partners including the American Legion, Timberland Regional Library, Heroes’ Café, YWCA, the American Red Cross, and select county-hosted Veteran service centers to thoughtfully manage, distribute, and share this unprecedented nutrition support for local Veterans in need!