Seattle’s Northwest Harvest food bank given eviction notice

Mar 2, 2018, 9:17 AM | Updated: 10:29 am
food bank...
(File, Associated Press)
(File, Associated Press)

The CEO of a Seattle food bank that’s being forced to move to make way for an apartment complex says the story “epitomizes the downside of growth in our region.”

How do free ORCA cards and college fit in with affordability?

Northwest Harvest CEO Thomas Reynolds writes, “Displacing a neighborhood food bank to make space for yet another high rise is just another example of the growing inequity the people in and around Seattle must deal with.”

Trinity Parish Church gave Northwest Harvest a 12-month notice to vacate the land in Seattle’s First Hill neighborhood. A 30-story mixed-use building is planned for the property.

The Associated Press reports the food bank was given official notice on Feb. 27.

Northwest Harvest, one of the state’s largest food banks, serves about 5,000 people per week, AP reports. On its website, it’s described as “the state’s largest hunger-relief agency.”

Trinity Paris Church says it has provided the food bank with space rent-free for more than 35 years, AP reports.

“We have a pretty large operation. We need about 10,000 feet of commercial space. The idea of finding that in today’s real estate market is going to be exceptionally difficult,” Northwest Harvest CEO Thomas Reynolds said.

The market could change the number of donations the food bank receives as well, he says. Currently, donors pay about 23 cents per meal.

“We’re concerned the current real estate market is going to change that equation.”

Reynolds says the food bank is now in the same situation its clients have been in.

“We’ve got Seattle with a booming economy, and on the other hand, you have a really significant population that is struggling. We exist for those people who are displaced, and now we find ourselves in the same situation.”

The food bank is looking for support to find a new place to operate.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan hasn’t ignored the issue of affordability. Her first major piece of legislation was directed at homelessness and housing. Her “Building a Bridge to Housing for All” proposed to make use of $11 million generated from a property sale to fund housing programs in 2018.

However, in a city with one of if not the hottest markets in the country, the issue of affordability is far from resolved. This is especially true for a nonprofit that requires 10,000 feet of space. Recently, it has fallen on the shoulders of big businesses, such as Amazon, to pick up the slack and provide struggling nonprofits a place to operate.

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Seattle’s Northwest Harvest food bank given eviction notice