The Food Connection Commission

The Food Connection Commission serves as the advisory board for the St. Leo Food Connection. A ministry of the parish, the Food Connection operates a variety of emergency food programs throughout Pierce County. The Food Connection has an annual cash budget of more than $600,000, plus donated food and volunteer hours valued at more than $2 million annually. The Commission assists the Director with strategic planning, fund development, and parish and community outreach efforts. The Commission meets quarterly and members are encouraged to serve on one sub-committee. Chair: Julian Bray (julianbray@clearwire.net) Staff Liaison: Kevin Glackin-Coley (Food Connection Director) 253.572.9405 or keving@foodconnection.org.

The St. Leo Food Connection

From our beginnings in a Hilltop garage in 1982 to today, the St. Leo Food Connection has been a consistent source of nutritious food and caring for people in need throughout Pierce County. Our motto is “fighting hunger in Pierce County since 1982.”

We take pride in distributing nutritious food, realizing that our clients are among society’s most vulnerable: over fifty percent of our clients at both the St. Leo Food Connection and the Springbrook Mobile Food Bank are children and the elderly. These populations are the most affected by a compromised diet. We require no proof of need from our clients, serving all Pierce County residents who come to us. All of our donated food and funds come from individuals, businesses, foundations, and other organizations.

Our two annual fundraisers are Bia-Ceol-Damhsa, an evening of Irish food, music, and dance in March, and Wheels to Meals, a one-day bike ride through the Puyallup Valley and surrounding area in early June. Riders choose from 10, 20, 32, 46, 56, and 75 mile courses and are asked to raise a minimum of $100. More information on the ride can be found at www.wheelstomeals.org.

While we have a staff of seven (4 FT, 3 PT), the St. Leo Food Connection relies on a variety of community volunteers to staff its programs. Volunteers come from the parish, the community of need, and the larger community. Volunteers are needed to help collect, process, and distribute food; serve on the Food Connection Commission or Wheels to Meals planning committee; and work on community education and advocacy efforts. For more information please contact Kevin Glackin-Coley at 253.572.9405 or keving@foodconnection.org.

We operate:

The St. Leo Food Bank, one of the two largest food banks in Pierce County, and one of the largest in the state. In 2011 we had 126,967 client visits.

The Springbrook Mobile Food Bank, which serves 150-175 households in Lakewood’s Springbrook neighborhood every Saturday. In 2011 we had 22,785 client visits.

The Backpack Project, that provides two days worth of kid-friendly food to more than 450 students at Tacoma and Lakewood public schools on Fridays throughout the school year.

Summer Meals sites, in Lakewood, Tacoma, and the Skagit Valley, serving brown bag lunches to more than 900 children on weekdays throughout the summer.

Sutherland Orchard, at L’Arche Farm and Gardens that will provide fresh fruit for our food bank clients.

Leo’s Garden, a demonstration garden that provides seed, starts, and garden ideas for our food bank clients.

Pierce County Gleaning Project, providing partial staffing for this program that collects surplus produce from local farmers, wholesalers, and home gardeners for distribution to emergency food programs throughout Pierce County.

Advocacy, in conjunction with other social service providers, we work on local, state, and federal advocacy efforts to support low-income individuals and families.