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HSD Announces Funding Awards for Food Systems Services

Stacked crates of fresh, northwest strawberries
Photo Credit: Byrd Barr Place

The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) released the 2023 Food Systems Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in late February with the goal of strengthening Seattle’s coordinated food system to increase food security and access to nutritious and culturally relevant food for low-income Seattle households. HSD, in alignment with the Seattle Food Action Plan, also commits to values-based purchasing, which seeks to align public dollars with core values such as equity, community health, local economy, environmental sustainability, and fair labor.

HSD is pleased to announce the results of the RFQ, which closed on April 11, 2023, releasing $1,768,928 of HSD General Fund dollars. The focus of the RFQ was to support the Seattle Food Committee (SFC) and Meals Partnership Coalition (MPC) with three service areas:

  1. nutritious cost-effective food sourcing (formerly bulk buy);
  2. transportation of procured food to local meal programs/food banks; and
  3. network administrative support including staff training and coordination of services.

SFC and MPC are the respective networks of local food banks and meal programs. While HSD historically provides direct services funding to several food banks and meal programs, food systems funding can support all programs in the SFC and MPC networks.

In addition, community engagement highlighted the need to respond to these current pandemic-driven challenges through this funding:

  • staffing shortages, supply chain issues, and increased customer service and communication issues among food security partners; and
  • global inflation that has exacerbated pandemic-driven procurement challenges.

The seven-member rating committee represented a range of ages, genders, ethnicities, and work experiences, and was comprised mostly of food bank and meal program leaders who understand the mechanics of each of the RFQ service areas.

“Thanks again for the efficiency and robustness of the process. The whole process was very instructive for me.”

Rating Committee Member

The panel supported funding the following agencies to provide food procurement, transportation of food and network administrative support services to both the SFC and MPC networks. Congratulations to:

  • Food Lifeline
  • OSL (Operation Sack Lunch)
  • Solid Ground

Food Lifeline has been addressing hunger in western Washington by both meeting the immediate needs of people facing hunger and reducing systemic food insecurity since 1979. It has over 25 years of experience purchasing food for the Seattle Food Committee and Meals Partnership Coalition networks. It has a robust Culturally Relevant Foods Sourcing and Distribution Program which is specifically designed to ensure communities receive nutrient-dense, culturally relevant foods that fit both the cultural and dietary needs of communities.

OSLhas 34 years of experience working towards food equity (balance) and food sovereignty (choice). It has a strong commitment to address inequities in the food system through its Food In Motion (FIM) program and the Meals Partnership Coalition (MPC).  OSL will provide transportation of procured food as well as continuing Network Administrative Support to MPC partners.

Solid Ground has more than 30 years of experience coordinating Seattle’s emergency food system, delivering healthy, culturally appropriate food to banks and pantries throughout the city and facilitating the Seattle Food Committee network. Solid Ground will provide transportation of procured food as well as continuing Network Administrative Support to SFC partners.