Thanks to the generosity of community members who attended a fund-raising dinner and auction for Emergency Food Network, 2 million meals will be provided for Pierce County residents.
The annual charity event was attended by more than 400 people who donated non-perishable food and raised about $370,000. For every dollar, Emergency Food Network (EFN) can distribute $12 worth of food to food banks countywide, including nine in south Pierce County that serve the Eatonville, Graham, Spanaway and South Hill communities.
The event, titled Abundance of Generosity, was held Oct. 22 at Clover Park Technical College's McGavick Center in Lakewood. In one span of 10 minutes during the live auction, bid paddles were raised to the tune of $175,000-plus in bids.
“The concern for our neighbors in need shown that night was absolutely amazing.” said Helen McGovern-Pilant, EFN's executive director. “Every year when I see bid cards flying up, I get chills while adding in my head how many hungry people we will get to feed as a result.”
The evening began with a silent auction and moved on to dinner, the live auction, and presentations about hunger in Pierce County and the partnerships between EFN and the 70 food programs it serves. EFN provides roughly 75 percent of the food that food banks, meal sites, and shelters distribute, McGovern-Pilant said.
Those sites received a combined 1.4 million visits in 2015, or 116,000 each month.
Emergency Food Network distributes 16 million pounds of food annually. To help meet that need, the auction and dinner, which this year raised $63,000 more than any other year, accounts for 15 percent of EFN's annual operating budget.
The presenting sponsors for this year's event were Waste Connection and the Franciscan Foundation.
EFN got another major boost recently from Boeing workers. A grant of $320,000 from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound, announced Nov. 16, is the largest financial gift received in EFN’s history.
McGovern-Piilant said the grant will pay for a new 2,500 square-foot storage facility that's scheduled to be built in 2017 next to the organization's existing 20,000 square-foot food warehouse. The new facility will be able to hold an additional 140,000 pounds of food at a time.
McGovern-Pilant thanked the Boeing employees for "their commitment to serving the hungry in our community.”
Additional information about Emergency Food Network is available at www.efoodnet.org.