Tukwila Pantry Food Bank

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The Transformative Power of Anti-Hunger Work

When I started working at Tukwila Pantry last October as a United Way of King County HungerCorp member, I had no idea what I was getting into. Never having volunteered at a food bank or even been to Tukwila, I was nervous. I remember my palms sweating as I got my first tour of the place, met my fellow Americorps member and new colleagues in the National Guard, and learned how to use the coffee maker.

Even though the Pantry is small in size, the sheer amount of food was staggering. Supplies were piled up to the ceiling in the dry room and stacked in crates in the walk-in fridge. In the weeks that followed, I witnessed the hard work that went into ensuring that none of that food was wasted. Every volunteer and staff member contributed to a powerful team, churning out box after box of food in preparation to distribute to well over 1000 families a week. The Pantry had risen to the incredible need in unprecedented COVID times, seamlessly adapting operations to create safer processes for clients to receive food.

In a short period of time, I fell into step with this flow and felt valued and challenged in my work. Doing the physical labor to make our services possible was empowering and meaningful. It made me proud to contribute to an organization doing crucial COVID relief work.

Not only did I find purpose in the day-to-day tasks, interacting with people from all different backgrounds–clients, volunteers, coworkers–also expanded my mind. Before coming to the Pantry, I’d had minimal interaction with the military, but I started to find value in learning about my coworkers’ different experiences and viewpoints. Our combined efforts to do anti-hunger work became the catalyst to talk about issues of race, class, and oppression. We even started a book club to dive into these topics outside of work.

These meetings became places for reflection on the experiences and inequalities that the people we serve experience. Many people become food-insecure because of violent systems of oppression that make economic opportunities inaccessible, especially during a pandemic. This knowledge is important when addressing clients with respect, dignity, patience, and understanding. Even though this work can be tiring or frustrating, I always tried to keep perspective as someone who does not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I started to learn how to communicate with English Language Learners, often practicing my Spanish, and developed friendly relationships with clients I saw every week.

Seven months later, I am beyond grateful for my time at the Pantry. Even though my HungerCorp term is over, I now get to see a different side of the Pantry as the Office Manager. I continue to learn and grow, develop my skills, and gain understanding of all the hours that go into running a food bank.

A couple days ago I received an email that struck me. I had forgotten that I had written a letter to myself to be delivered at the end of my service term. This piece resonated the most:  “Now that you’ve completed your time, I hope you’ve gained confidence and understanding. I hope your eyes have been opened even though your gas bill has been high. What I want most is for you to feel inspired.”

I can say with confidence that I have accomplished these goals and more.

Benefit from the Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund!

Were you or someone you know ineligible for federal stimulus checks or unemployment benefits during the pandemic due to immigration status? The Washington COVID-19 Immigrant Relief Fund helps support immigrants by offering $1,000 grants to eligible applicants. Online applications are available until May 21st 2021, and recipients will be awarded their grants in June. 

Who is eligible? To apply, you must fall under the following categories: 

  • You are a Washington state resident.
  • You are at least 18 years of age. 
  • You have been significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, such as loss of employment or significant reduction in work hours, contracting the coronavirus or caring for a family member who contracted the coronavirus. 
  • You are ineligible to receive unemployment insurance compensation or federal stimulus dollars due to immigration status. 
  • You have an income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. 

For more information and to apply, visit this link:  www.immigrantreliefwa.org

Translations are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Swahili. Also included is a list of organizations offering help with applications in case you are in need of assistance. 

Applications will close early if all the spots are filled, so apply as soon as possible!

Free Tax Help

Usually at this time of year, volunteers with United Way of King County are onsite at Tukwila Pantry to help you file your taxes correctly and on time. This year, they can’t quite be onsite, but United Way has the same free tax preparation help available to people in our community!

Go to FreeTaxExperts.org to find resources about how to file your taxes. This year has made taxes difficult for everyone, so get help now!

From Jan. 20–Apr. 18, 2021, trained and IRS-certified tax experts will be available to provide safe, secure and 100% online assistance in filing your taxes. Our experts know all the new tax laws and available credits, including those in the new relief bill, so that they can maximize your return and you can keep more of your money. We can also assist with claiming stimulus check money.


Desde el 20 de enero hasta el 18 de abril de 2021, los expertos tributarios capacitados que cuentan la certificación del Servicio de Impuestos Internos (Internal Revenue Service, IRS) se encontrarán disponibles para brindar asistencia segura, sin riesgos y completamente en línea para declarar sus impuestos. Nuestros expertos conocen todas las nuevas leyes tributarias y los créditos disponibles, incluidos aquellos en el nuevo proyecto de ley de alivio, por lo que pueden maximizar sus ganancias y usted puede conservar más dinero. También podemos ayudar con los reclamos del dinero de los cheques de estímulos.


Laga bilaabo Janaayo 20–abriil. 18, 2021, khubarada tababarka leh oo shahaado ka haysta Internal Revenue Authority (Maamulka Dakhliga Gudaha, IRS) ayaa diyaar u ahaan doona inay ku siiyaan caawimaad badqab leh, amaan ah oo 100% oonleen ah oo ku aadan buuxinta foomamkaaga canshuuraha. Khubaradeenu waxay yaqaanaan dhamaan sharciyada canshuuraha ee cusub iyo canshuur dhaafka aad heli karto, ayna ku jiraan kuwa ku jira sharciga cusub ee gurmadka, si ay heerka ugu sareeya u gaarsiiyaan canshuur celintaada aadna ku ilaashato cadad badan oo lacagtaada kamid ah. Waxaan sidoo kale kaa caawin karnaa sheegashada lacagta jeega kaalmada ah.


Từ ngày 20 tháng 1 – 18 tháng 4 năm 2021, các chuyên gia thuế có trình độ và có chứng nhận của Sở Thuế Vụ (Internal Revenue Services, IRS) sẽ sẵn lòng hỗ trợ quý vị khai thuế an toàn, bảo mật và trực tuyến 100%. Các chuyên gia của chúng tôi nắm được tất cả những điều luật mới về thuế và tín thuế hiện có, kể cả những nội dung có trong dự luật cứu trợ mới, do vậy, họ có thể giúp quý vị tối ưu hóa hồ sơ khai thuế và giữ lại được nhiều tiền hơn. Chúng tôi cũng có thể hỗ trợ yêu cầu cấp tiền trợ cấp kích thích kinh tế.

Enrollment Event!

Be sure to attend the Enrollment Event and Health Fair on December 21 at Showalter Middle School! You will be able to enroll for a health insurance plan, get COVID-19 testing, get your flu vaccine, sign up for and ORCA LIFT card, and more! A great event with a lot of resources – make sure to spread the word!

Tukwila Pantry in the News

Pastor Jan Bolerjack on KUOW
(CREDIT: KUOW PHOTO/MEGAN FARMER)

Tukwila Pantry was featured in the news again – this time on KUOW! Check out their great article and radio news story.

KUOW got the chance to talk with our very own Pastor Jan Bolerjack – member of the Tukwila Pantry Board and long-time leader of the Pantry and Riverton Park United Methodist Church. They also got the chance to talk with some of our great volunteers, as well as National Guard members who are serving at the Pantry.

As the article underlines, we definitely need your support. Consider making a donation, volunteering, or spreading the word on social media.

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