Help Create a Hunger-Free King County

Did you know that 30 percent of seniors must choose between food and medical expenses? Or that 65 percent of seniors eligible for food stamps—our best frontline defense against hunger—don't access the benefit?  

Hunger is a reality for too many area residents, but it doesn't have to be. United Way of King County's annual Hunger Action Week focuses attention on hunger's harmful impact on our community and the ways we can solve hunger together.

Last year 4,500 people participated in Hunger Action Week. With their help, United Way invested in programs that connect residents to food stamps, nutrition programs and healthy foods.

One example is United Way's innovative Bridge to Basics partnership with WithinReach. The program met Mrs. Wong at a King County food bank. Mrs. Wong spoke primarily Cantonese and Toisanese, but little English. She explained to the Cantonese-speaking volunteer that she had all her mail sent to her son because she didn't read English, and that her son was helping her learn how to do things like pay bills.

Mrs. Wong was interested in applying for the Basic Food program, but was hesitant because of the language barrier for the interview process. The volunteer worked with Mrs. Wong to help her fill out the application in her own language, and later her son was able to take time off work to go with Mrs. Wong to complete an interview.  

Mrs. Wong's household was approved for $147/month. When the program staff saw Mrs. Wong at the food bank a month later she thanked them for their help. Despite the language barrier, Mrs. Wong was able to use her resources and felt empowered to do take the steps to move towards self-sufficiency.

You can help create a Hunger Free King County. Community members can sign up to participate in Hunger Action Week by visiting www.uwkc.org/haw. There are several ways to get involved:

  • Are you on Facebook? Take our Hunger Quiz and $5 will be given to fight hunger in King County.
  • Take the Food Stamp Challenge: Challenge yourself (and your family) to live on $6.30 per day. The maximum amount of Food Stamp benefits for WA residents.
  • Volunteer: Join us on Saturday, March 22, for a day of action. We have several options for you to dig into.
  • Join the Conversation: Participate in an online forum hosted by King County Library System, or attend an in-person forum during Hunger Action Week to hear from a panel of experts on hunger in your community. Share your thoughts on what we can do to fight hunger and learn more about what's already being done.

Think hunger is someone else's problem? Think again. Food insecurity exists in every county in America—including ours. Join us!

As associate director of the Ending Homelessness program at United Way of King County, contributor Lauren McGowan manages a portfolio of anti-poverty programs. She writes a personal blog called Now is the Time, dedicated to ending hunger, homelessness, and the cycle of poverty.

Take the Food Stamp Challenge!

Half Apple --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Food Stamp Challenge Rules:

  • Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner on just $6.30 a day, or whichever amount corresponds with your household size.
  • Try to include fresh produce and lean protein every day.
  • Try not to purchase hot food (like from a food court or buffet) because food stamps are not allowed to be used on these items.

For challenge tips and more, click here!