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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Doug Baldwin Jr. and Thomas Reynolds: Volunteers needed to keep Washington food banks open

Doug Baldwin Jr. and Thomas Reynolds

By Doug Baldwin Jr. and Thomas Reynolds

It’s a critical time for food security in Washington state. At a time when many of our fellow citizens are in desperate need of food, there is a profound shortage of volunteers at food banks that is severely impacting our ability to serve our neighbors.

It’s a nationwide problem. Volunteerism, which had held steady for almost 20 years, declined significantly in 2021. Reports from communities across the country, including in Spokane County, indicate that the situation is not improving. At the same time, 1 in 12 households in Washington experience hunger and 1 in 6 kids live in families that struggle to put food on the table.

We can criticize the situation and be angry at the circumstances that brought us to this point. Or, we can take action. Since 2020, we have been at the mercy of events that have impacted all of us. Now, we have the opportunity to rebuild and cultivate a community that has learned some valuable lessons. Yes, the pandemic has changed us to the core. Yet, from that change, we can create something better.

The good news is that creating something better starts with us. If we want to support our community and get food to those who need it most, we have to start with one small action:

Volunteer at your local food bank.

Volunteers keep food banks open. It’s as simple as that. They need you. More than 50% of food banks are run completely with volunteers, who play vital roles behind the scenes and directly helping clients. They pack donated bulk products into family-size packages, sort food, greet and assist shoppers, provide interpretation services, and create a welcoming presence.

Better still, multiple studies have shown that volunteering benefits the volunteer as well as those they help. The Mayo Clinic concluded that volunteering improves physical and mental health, provides a sense of purpose, and creates new relationships based on a shared activity. The American Heart Association, reflecting on the stress that so many have faced in the last three years, found that chronic stress is a major contributor to poor health, and that volunteering reduces stress.

And if all of that does not completely convince you to volunteer in the fight against hunger, then focus on one simple truth. Right now, the ability to make your community a better place rests in your hands. We ask you to put those hands to work.

So, we’ve launched a campaign to encourage Washingtonians to make a commitment to volunteer at their local food bank. We have asked our friends, neighbors, partners, and even members of the Seahawks Super Bowl 48 Championship team, to join us in this effort and they were eager to help. That Championship winning team came together once again this fall to show that a team united is a team that wins. Now, we all have the chance to join the team and answer the call to fight hunger in Washington.

We’ve made it easy to sign up to volunteer at Or you can just reach out to your local food bank. Humans are created for connection, and there is no greater way to connect our communities than by working together for a common good. Join this team. Join our team. Volunteer at your local food bank. We promise you, the pursuit of this victory will be well worth it.

Thomas Reynolds is CEO of Northwest Harvest and Doug Baldwin Jr. is CEO of Vault89 and member of the Super Bowl 48 Championship Seahawks. They both live in King County.