Last week, the Vertically Integrated Partnership (including Sodexo, Annie's Fun, and Hirai Farms) donated 8,000 pounds of potatoes to the Bellingham Food Bank, and more than 50 volunteers -- including Western Washington University students and folks from Sodexo and WWU Dining Services -- were on hand to help unload the tubers.
Making remarks to the crowd of volunteers and others who attended the event were Mike Cohen, executive director of the Bellingham Food Bank; Ira Simon, Sodexo resident district manager at WWU Dining Services, Blaine Hirai, owner of Hirai Farms, chair of Annie's Fun and co-chair of the Vertically Integrated Partnership; and Rep. Doug Ericksen, from the 42nd Legislative District in Bellingham.
The Vertically Integrated Partnership is a coalition of farmers, food processors, food distributors and food service companies, co-chaired by Sodexo and Annie's Fun/Hirai Farms, that are working together to help stop hunger in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2008, the partnership has donated more than 2 million pounds of food (potatoes, sweet corn, onions, beans, canned foods, etc.) to many food banks in the Pacific Northwest, including Northwest Harvest, Second Harvest, Food Lifeline, White Center Food Bank, Quincy Community Food Bank and Wenatchee Food Bank. The partnership hopes to donate another 2 million pounds of food in the next 12 to 16 months.
"This generous donation by the Vertically Integrated Partnership, Sodexo, Annie's Fun and Hirai Farms will greatly benefit Whatcom County," said Max Morange, agricultural programs coordinator of the Bellingham Food Bank. "The Bellingham Food Bank will be immediately distributing the potatoes to soup kitchens and emergency food providers across the county. Having such a large donation really makes it possible for us to distribute much-needed food to every corner of our community."