The Market will be receive $2 million in federal funding to expand its ability to provide food services for those in need in Buckley and beyond.
The grant money comes from the Community Project Funding program included in Congress’ 2023 government funding bill, which was recently approved by both houses, local Rep. Kim Schrier announced in a Dec. 23 email.
“I’m thrilled that I could go to bat for the 8th District and make sure all 15 of our district’s requested projects received funding,” Schrier said in a press release. “These projects are a unique opportunity to advocate for our community’s needs.”
In total, more than $22 million will be granted to various nonprofits and agencies around Schrier’s 8th Congressional District. Other recipients include King County’s Crisis Response Team, which will receive $1 million to aid to Sheriff’s Office in their response to violent crimes and property crimes in Maple Valley, Covington, and Sammamish; and the King County Sheriff’s Office, which is receiving another million to roll out body cameras on deputies that respond to crimes in the south and east ends of the county.
The Market will be using $1 million to expand its locker program so clients can be served in their communities, rather than having to make the drive to Buckley, and start growing its own fresh food.
The nonprofit’s locker program allows clients to order food through The Market and then pick it up at their leisure on a set date.
At this time, clients can order curated boxes that cater to specific needs or customized orders by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, but The Market hopes to have an online shopping system up and running January 2023, which will allow customers to customize their orders.
“We have up to five new locations slated with this funding (to add to the four we have slated through our funding with Pierce County Council),” said CEO Stacey Crnich. “Each locker unit can serve 50-plus families, meaning we will have the capacity to serve up to 500 families each day in addition to the 200 that visit The Market Monday through Friday.”
Pierce County funding will help lockers get installed over in the county’s 1st District, but the Congressional funds will pay for lockers to be constructed in Congressional District 8, which Schrier represents.
All lockers will be built in areas with less than 20,000 people; Crnich said she would “love” to get lockers in Buckley, Enumclaw, Black Diamond, and beyond, but conversations about constructing these lockers have only just begun.
The current locker at The Market has so far served 900 deliveries, with Crnich adding that the rollout was “flawless”.
“Buildings do not create access. Technology bridges the gaps in access that the foodbanking industry is still experiencing,” she continued. “Our customers will be able to shop our inventory online and have the dignity of choice in what food they pick up and where (the checkout system will have a map showing all the locations so customers can choose the most convenient for them).”
The other million will go toward starting a farm, which Crnich described as a hybrid between traditional greenhouse and hydroponic farming for year-round production.
“This will offset our food purchasing budget, but most importantly provide access to fresh and nutrient dense foods, while lowering carbon footprint, and food waste,” she said. “Our goal is to create access to health while connecting our community to where food comes from and how each of us can play a role in securing more fresh foods in our homes and community through growing. This funding helps to get us started on a multiphase plan.”
The farm is hoped to be open and start producing food sometime in 2023.
The Market is a non-traditional food bank, though Crnich tries to shy away from that word, citing negative connotations; its structure is more like a supermarket than anything else, and customers can simply grab a cart, shop for the food they need, and then check out (no payment is made, but products are inventoried).
Most customers choose to shop at The Market, while others use the locker system, but The Market also partners with Door Dash to deliver food boxes to people and families that are unable to make the trek to Buckley.
For more information, go to www.bonneylakefoodbank.org.
OTHER FUNDING FOR KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
King County’s Sheriff’s Office is also receiving $2 million in federal funds to improve its ability to address people in crisis and provide body cameras for deputies.
The Sheriff’s Crisis Response Team will be receiving $1 million to aid deputies responding to people in crisis in East King County communities, and eventually, all around the county.
According to Sergeant Corbett Ford, the Sheriff’s Department only utilizes the CRT — which consists of trained behavioral health experts that co-respond with deputies on specific calls — in and around the city of Burien, but the money will help push CRT responses into other areas of the county.
“There’s been growing evidence that not all 911 calls need to be responded to by law enforcement alone,” Ford said, adding that the CRT also sometimes responds to calls without deputies.
The hopes of this program, Schrier said, is to reduce unnecessary use-of-force incidents. Proponents of such programs have also said these programs allow law enforcement to focus on crimes, rather than responding to people with mental health issues they’re not necessarily trained to deal with.
The Sheriff’s Office will be receiving another $1 million to equip deputies with body cameras. According to Schrier, the office is the largest law enforcement agency in the state that is currently not using body cams.
Regular body cam use is still a few years away, Ford said, saying the Sheriff’s Office’s goal to start rolling out the cameras is 2025. Additionally, use of body cams won’t be office-wide, but rolled out by precinct.