AGENCY SPOTLIGHT: SPOKANE TRIBE FOOD DISTRIBUTION PROGRAM – NOVEMBER 4
Author: Elias Piña, Program Director
With National Native American Heritage Month underway, Second Harvest is honored to introduce you to one of our agency partners making a tangible impact on hunger: The Spokane Tribe Food Distribution Program.
Based in Wellpinit, Washington, they’re working hard to provide food for their community. Food distribution manager Scott Peone, who has been with the program for 28 years, said the need has been steady. Stevens County, where Wellpinit is located, has a food insecurity rate of 13% according to Feeding America’s 2020 “Map the Meal Gap” report.
“The client numbers fluctuate around this time. In the next few months, we’ll see an increase in clients due to the seasonal workers,” Peone said.
As grocery prices have increased across the nation, the community served by the Spokane Tribe Food Distribution Program has also been impacted. “We have single and dual-income families, but with the prices going up, it’s sometimes not enough to buy groceries,” he explained. “The food we get from Second Harvest gets distributed quickly and helps our clients.”
With distribution five days a week from 7:30 a.m.- 4 p.m., Peone and his warehouse manager have gone to great lengths to increase access to food for tribal members and the surrounding communities. This includes securing a refrigerated truck that enables them to get more product into their community.
During the uncertainty of the pandemic, the Spokane Tribe Food Distribution Program had to keep everyone safe while feeding families. Their solution: temporary home deliveries using their new refrigerated truck and mobile pantry distributions. The additional distribution methods have been met with some challenges, such as an electrical short on the truck that’s limited their ability to continue mobile distributions. These challenges don’t let the Spokane Tribe Food Distribution Program slow them down, and they already have two events planned in the coming months.
These days, they mainly distribute food using outdoor client choice, similar to a farmers market, in which clients walk through and select a few items they’d like. Thanks to support from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, local organizations and monthly deliveries from Second Harvest, the Spokane Tribe Food Distribution Program can distribute a wide variety of fresh food to families within the community.
“The Spokane Tribe Food Distribution Program and clients appreciate all the help we get from Second Harvest and their donors,” shared Peone.
He said the Spokane Tribe Food Distribution Program welcomes all families on the Spokane Tribe Reservation and from surrounding communities. “Anyone who is willing to come in, we’ll help them.”
For details on this program and to find a food pantry near you, please visit: https://foodfinder.2-harvest.org/