Jan 23Pop-Up Pantry Combats Seattle’s Food Desert at Magnuson Park
In Spring of 2019, Mercy Housing Northwest (MHNW) opened the doors to our newest community, Mercy Magnuson Place, providing 148 affordable homes on the Magnuson Park campus. The building offers an onsite health clinic, childcare center, and resident services programming – all critical to residents’ success and stability. However, MHNW knew that Magnuson Park was a food desert when we started to build Mercy Magnuson Place. The issue of healthy food access for families with limited incomes was a main concern among the community. Families already living in Magnuson Park said they were heading across the street to 7-Eleven to get convenient groceries. With residents facing barriers like the cost of food and transportation, we needed a solution as we doubled the number of residents living in Magnuson Park with the new property. After months of planning and collaboration among four community partners, including the University District Food Bank, the YMCA, Solid Ground, and MHNW, we launched the Magnuson Park Community Food Pantry.
This weekly pop-up Food Pantry opened in August of 2019 and is hosted in the Nomi B. Community Room. Both residents and the community are welcome. Since its opening, the Food Pantry has served 330 households and distributed more than 35,000 pounds of food. On a weekly basis, the Food Pantry serves an average of 100 households.
“With all the stress and negativity in the world, it is great to be part of something positive — people helping each other.”
— Lisa, Community Volunteer
The University District Food Bank provides the food items, the YMCA offers volunteers to assist and Solid Ground staff members hold food demonstrations in the kitchen, utilizing ingredients that are found at the pantry to provide residents new recipe ideas to whip up at home.
“I like the fact that they have a cooking demonstration using food from the pantry. A lot of people don’t know how to cook some of the food they receive from the pantry. The recipe helps a lot!” says Mercy Magnuson Place resident, Ida.
Residents choose from items like fresh produce (fruits and vegetables), dairy, protein, grains, non-perishable goods, pet food, personal care items, and farmer’s market bucks. Having the option to shop for healthy foods right where they live has been a gamechanger for residents, especially families with children, as parents can simply walk downstairs or down the road with their kids for a quick trip to pick out foods for the week.
Community volunteers are essential and include groups like the University of Washington, Allied, Rotary Club, community individuals and even residents at Mercy Magnuson Place. In five months, Food Pantry volunteers racked up about 400 hours of community service.
Looking for a way to get involved in your community?
You can join as a volunteer at the Food Pantry!
• Volunteer as an individual or gather a group of colleagues or friends
• Each Wednesday, volunteers are needed for two different shifts: 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 12 – 3 p.m.
• Mercy Magnuson Place is also in search of volunteers to serve as Guest Chefs to teach residents and the community simple and healthy recipes that they can cook up in the kitchen.
To get involved as a volunteer, please contact Vy Le at email@example.com.