M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Based in Seattle, Washington, FareStart has provided real solutions to poverty, homelessness, and hunger for nearly 30 years. Since 1992, FareStart has prepared over 10.5 million hot meals for schools, healthcare centers, shelters, Head Start programs, and others who may otherwise go without access to healthy food. As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds and significantly more individuals are facing food insecurity, and FareStart is expanding operations to meet the rising need. Since the emergency response began in late March, it has fed more than 4,500 individuals daily at 70 sites, which accounts for more than 600% of its usual volume.

To increase services and match the rising need, FareStart is scaling up operations on all fronts with creative and resourceful changes. By convening government, community, and business partners, it is assessing the food needs of the most vulnerable people in the Seattle-King County area. As food availability shifts in the changing economic climate, it is tailoring menus to adapt to product availability, food recovery, and food donations. FareStart is also piloting a partnership with the Alliance for Education to offer meals at two SPS sites for children who qualify for free or reduced school lunches. In addition to observing all CDC and Seattle-King County Public Health guidelines, the organization has navigated the logistics of pivoting toward to-go containers and delivery for meals. Delivery sites include the newly constructed Shoreline Assessment and Recovery Center, a temporary health facility built to accommodate the overload of patients in King County hospital facilities and individuals quarantined with the Coronavirus.

While job training programs are paused due to shelter-in-place orders, FareStart continues to support the students who rely on these programs. Adult culinary students are receiving support with housing, food, virtual case management, mental health, and other critically needed wraparound services. In addition to current students, many graduates of the program will be given cash assistance and connected to relief services and other nonprofits with resources to assist.

For keeping our neighbors fed in a time of instability, considering the needs of those on the margins, and upholding the Murdock vision of serving the common good, we applaud the service and ingenuity of FareStart.

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