Commentary: Neighbors in need — How our community can unite against hunger amidst rising costs

The Foundation for Edmonds School District’s Nourishing Network serves local students and families facing food and housing insecurity.

Food is a lifeline. It nourishes, comforts, and brings communities together. But what do you do when access to food becomes uncertain? Many families are grappling with this question as they make difficult decisions about essentials such as rent, utilities, medical expenses and, crucially, food. Considering this, many families can no longer afford the cost of food and are turning to local food banks and initiatives for help, including the Foundation for Edmonds School District’s own Nourishing Network program.

In Washington state, the impact is hitting hard: the University of Washington recently published a study showing that 1 in 4 households need government assistance just to survive. This Thanksgiving, local food banks faced the challenge of inflation affecting their ability to purchase food, making it tougher to support families in our community.

Community Support in Action: The Nourishing Network

The Nourishing Network is a coalition of caring community partners, including faith communities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, food banks and municipalities, all working together to support and serve local students and families facing food and housing insecurity. Through the Nourishing Network, the Foundation for Edmonds School District works to provide weekend meal kits, bags of groceries and important necessities at pop-up pantries, and holiday meals to those who are struggling.

The numbers tell a compelling story. Last year, at the end of November, the Nourishing Network served weekend meal kits to 177 students each week; this November, that number has surged to 477 students weekly and only expects to increase from here. Monthly pop-up pantries are also seeing more than 430 families seeking assistance each month.

Thame Fuller, Nourishing Network programs director, highlights the stark reality: “This school year the number of students and families we are serving has risen to the highest levels we have ever seen, even surpassing the demand during the peak of the COVID crisis. There are many reasons for this, some positive, like a greater awareness of our programs, but many negative, most notably, the rise in inflation.”

Recently, the foundation secured crucial funding, with $10,000 from T-Mobile’s Community Vitality Grant, $25,000 from Liberty Mutual’s SafeCo Insurance Fund, and an additional $140,000 from Verdant Health Commission aimed at helping homeless and low-income families. This financial boost is a lifeline for the Nourishing Network, given the increasing demand and the strain on resources.

“We’re incredibly thankful for this generous support,” says Deborah Brandi, foundation executive director. “It breaks my heart to know so many children are in need and we’re working hard to meet that demand. This funding is vital, but the dollar must stretch so much further now that we’re finding we are also in need of extra assistance to meet these high needs in our community.”

Take Action Today

Support from local community members is essential to ensure that every child in our district has the resources to learn, thrive, and contribute to our vibrant community. There are many ways to help a child or family in need this holiday season. The Nourishing Network actively seeks volunteers for delivering food to those in need, stressing the importance of time as a valuable donation. Additionally, monetary and food donations remain crucial to sustaining this support. “We greatly appreciate our partners and supporters,” says Thame. “We encourage everyone who can to give generously to help our neighbors overcome the trauma of food and housing insecurity they are currently enduring.”

To help a child today, visit to make a gift, or to volunteer, contact Thame Fuller, Nourishing Network programs director, at or 425-431-7092. Your involvement today can help answer the pressing question faced by many families: “What do I do when I no longer have regular access to food?”

— By Debs Jacobsen

Debs Jacobsen is the Director of Operations and Communications for the Foundation for Edmonds School District. A British expat, she now calls Washington home and enjoys life with her husband and children. 


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