Emergency Food Network
EFN began as a program in 1982 when the leadership of FISH Food Banks, Tacoma Rescue Mission, Salvation Army, and Associated Ministries recognized a great need in our community to resource emergency food collectively. With guidance from Paul Bender, the Executive Director of the newly formed Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, and through the organizing efforts of Dennis Flannigan, EFN’s first Executive Director, the organization was created to serve as Pierce County’s central storage and distribution center for emergency food programs. In 1985, EFN was transferred as a program to Associated Ministries. Originally designed to meet a temporary need caused by the economic recession of the 1980’s, it became apparent in the early 1990’s that the need for such a community service had grown. In response, EFN became an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1991.
The Pierce County emergency food system includes more than 71 food pantries and hot meal sites, providing over 18.3 million meals annually to over 1.3 million clients (duplicated count). In recent years, food programs have experienced an increase in the number of clients seeking services.
As the sole nonprofit food distributor located in Pierce County, many food programs are dependent on EFN for food. The majority of food is donated by farms and large corporations such as Fred Meyer, Carolina Logistics, QFC and SuperValu, but EFN also acts as a Sub-Distributing Agency (SDA) for the USDA Commodity Food Program and purchases food through its Co-op Food Purchasing Program.