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New Donations from Safeway and #AllInSeattle Allow City of Seattle to Surpass 8,000 Households for Grocery Voucher Program

Expanded Program Provides $800 in Grocery Vouchers to Workers Who Have Recently Lost Their Job or Experienced a Decrease in Hours Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Seattle (April 23, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that the City’s expanded grocery voucher program will now serve a total of 8,050 households, including an expansion of 800 workers who recently lost their job or experienced a decrease in hours or wages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The expansion will be funded by a $200,000 donation from Safeway and a $450,000 donation from #AllInSeattle and other donors to United Way of King County’s (UWKC) Community Relief Fund. UWKC is collecting donations in support of the City’s continued efforts to expand access to healthy, affordable food, and combat the effects COVID-19 has on workers. 

“We know that working people in Seattle are struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our region is transitioning from having one of the lowest unemployment rates anywhere, to seeing unemployment claims soar statewide,” said Mayor Durkan. “These grocery vouchers are critical to helping working families put food on the table. I’m deeply grateful to our partner organizations, United Way of King County, Safeway, and #AllInSeattle for their efforts to support families. Our city has been working on many new initiatives as it relates to rental assistance, meals, and support for artists and small businesses. Although more resources are needed to sustain and expand these programs, these critical relief efforts are helping working families and workers when they need it most and will help lay the foundation for long-term recovery. Despite what we’ve been able to do locally, we know it is not enough for those who are struggling. For the tens of millions of families struggling right now, we need the State and Congress to provide urgent relief for housing, meals, and workers.”

“We heard from many immigrant families who can’t access any federal or state COVID-19 relief because they come from mixed-status families or are undocumented. Thanks to our partner organizations helping disperse these vouchers, this round of resources will prioritize reaching out to our immigrant families and displaced workers. Food is integral to survival, and the expansion of this program ensures many more families, regardless of status, can put food on the table,” said Council President M. Lorena González.

“As we go from weeks to months into this crisis, families across Seattle are desperate for financial relief, from paying bills to buying groceries. Discount programs go so far but cash in hand, especially in the form of grocery vouchers, goes a long way,” said Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle and the CID). “Thanks to Safeway and private donations, as well as the Safeway workers who are on the frontlines stocking our grocery store shelves, 1,800 households will be able to feed their families. I also want to thank the organizations that are helping disperse these vouchers. They are closest to their communities and without their insight and partnership, we wouldn’t be able to reach so many families that are struggling.”

The Safeway and #AllInSeattle donations will go to the United Way of King County to support the Office of Sustainability and Environment’s (OSE) expanded grocery voucher program. The expanded program is providing 1,800 workers impacted by COVID-19 with vouchers that can immediately be used at any Washington state Safeway store to purchase food and household goods, not including tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets, and fuel. The City and UWKC will continue to fundraise with the goal of providing a total of 2,000 workers these grocery vouchers. If you or your organization is interested in donating to the grocery voucher program, please visit UWKC’s Community Relief Fund website.

“We are very thankful for these generous donations to the Community Relief Fund, which will help to directly address the food insecurity that many families are experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Gordon McHenry, Jr., president and CEO of United Way of King County. “This crisis grows in magnitude each day, and our families and neighbors, especially our communities of color, immigrants and refugees, are struggling to put food on their tables. We are committed to providing the critical food assistance they need. The number of people we can help is limited by the funds we raise.”

“We have been supporting a variety of programs addressing the devastating increase in food insecurity across the state and consider the City of Seattle solution one of most effective and efficient. While we are all working to rebuild the food bank infrastructure system that has been enormously impacted by a disruption in the supply chain and volunteer labor, these vouchers are an innovative solution in the meantime to make sure families can access their local stores to keep meals on the table. We are pleased to support this program, and plan to continue to do so for as long as it’s needed,” said Sara Osborne, director of external affairs at Safeway.

“The #AllInSeattle movement was created to inspire people to give back to their community, and the expansion of the grocery voucher program is such an incredible result of everyone coming together. We are so thankful for our community’s generosity and hope the spirit of “All-In” continues and expands to communities across Washington State,” said Jill Singh, community volunteer and member of #AllInSeattle.  

OSE is partnering with community-based organizations to distribute the vouchers, with a focus on recently displaced workers who are unable to access other forms of government aid due to structural or institutional barriers, like language barriers, fear of deportation, or experiencing gender-based violence. Partner organizations include: Asian Counseling and Referral Services, Ingersoll Gender Center, Providence Regina House, Refugee Women’s Alliance, and Villa Comunitaria. Partner organizations are determining voucher recipients based on the lists of clients and households they support in their work.

This expanded program was first launched thanks to an $800,000 donation from Oak View Group and NHL Seattle. The program builds off the Mayor’s earlier $5 million investment to provide 6,250 families currently enrolled in City-supported child care programs and food assistance programs with $800 in grocery vouchers. Eligible households have already received $400 in grocery vouchers and will receive another $400 in grocery vouchers to help with food assistance needs in May.

There are many efforts via the City, state, and nonprofit agencies to help ensure food security and access during the COVID-19 pandemic. The City’s Human Services Department (HSD) put together this interactive Food Resource Map to help residents find available food resources in their neighborhood. In addition, residents can visit the City’s comprehensive COVID-19 resource website for a compilation of food resources and information on how to access those resources.