The National Guard helps out at a Second Harvest food warehouse this month in Eastern Washington. National Guard members also are assisting at the Northwest Harvest warehouse in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Second Harvest

The National Guard helps out at a Second Harvest food warehouse this month in Eastern Washington. National Guard members also are assisting at the Northwest Harvest warehouse in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Second Harvest

National Guard helps pack boxes at Kent warehouse for food banks

Members assist Northwest Harvest

Thirty members of the National Guard are assisting the Northwest Harvest food warehouse in Kent with packing boxes to distribute to food banks in Western Washington.

“They will be there for at least the next couple of weeks,” said Karina Shagren, Washington Military Department communications director, in a Wednesday email. “Guardsmen are helping food banks unload and box items to ensure people who need food assistance are still receiving it.”

The National Guard members started Monday at the Kent warehouse.

Northwest Harvest is a nonprofit food bank distributor operating statewide with a network of 375 food banks served from four warehouses, including one in Kent since 2007.

“Many volunteers that support our area food banks are in the at-risk categories for Covid-19, creating a severe staffing shortfall,” Shagren said. “At the same time, the need for food assistance continues to grow.”

The National Guard is assisting food banks and warehouses across the state, although Shagren said she didn’t have a current list she added the number continues to grow.

Kent Mayor Dana Ralph spoke about the National Guard coming to Kent during her report Tuesday night to the City Council.

“I want residents to know why they are here,” Ralph said. “The Guard is coming to help Northwest Harvest prepare about 7,000 boxes a week and shipping them out to areas in South King county and Central and Southwest Washington.

‘We are very, very grateful for that response. At end of this crisis we are looking at about 2.5 million Washingtonians being food insecure which is a staggering number. …without the help of Northwest Harvest and the National Guard we would not be able to meet that demand.”

Ralph said she had a phone conversation with Northwest Harvest CEO Thomas Reynolds on Saturday to discuss the shortage of volunteers at the Kent warehouse.

“It is mostly staffed by volunteers and a lot of them are elderly so they are seeing a crunch in resources,” Ralph said.

Northwest Harvest reached out to the state Department of Agriculture for response by the National Guard.

Gov. Jay Inslee recently posted on Twitter that the National Guard would be helping with food distribution at food banks and warehouses.

“The Washington National Guard will provide important help to our communities to ensure our critical food banks remain stocked and operational,” Inslee said. “They’re filling an important need and I ask that you welcome them in your communities as they process, package and distribute meals.”

The National Guard is helping out in Eastern Washington at Second Harvest, which distributes over 2 million pounds of free food each month to help people in need in 26 counties in Eastern Washington and North Idaho as it partners with more than 250 neighborhood food banks.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

Bret Chiafalo. File photo
Supreme Court says state can punish WA faithless electors

Justices: Presidential electors, including Everett man, must keep pledge to back popular vote winner

Gov. Jay Inslee issued new guidance allowing the resumption of self-service buffets, salad bars, salsa bars, drink stations and other types of communal food sources in Phase 2. File photo
Buffets and salad bars back on the menu in King County

Gov. Jay Inslee has revised rules to allow self-serve food areas in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening.

State regulators keep Puget Sound Energy rates steady

Rate adjustments ease economic impact during COVID-19 pandemic

Brian Tilley (left) and Katie Dearman work the wash station Friday at Kate’s Greek American Deli in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Governor’s no-mask, no-service order begins across Washington

“Just do not ring up the sale,” Gov. Jay Inslee said about customers who do not don the proper masks.

King County homeless count: 11,751 people, up 5 percent from 2019

One night a year, volunteers spread out across Seattle and King County… Continue reading

Nurse Sylvia Keller, pictured with Gov. Jay Inslee, is on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle in Yakima County. Courtesy photo
Governor doubles down on mask rules

Inslee: Starting July 7, businesses do not serve those who do not wear a mask

State Capitol Building in Olympia. File photo
Politicians get pay raises, state workers get furloughs

A citizens panel approved the hikes in 2019. Unable to rescind them, lawmakers look to donate their extra earnings.

Summer vehicle travel projected to decrease this year

Traffic this summer will likely be lighter across Washington state than previous… Continue reading

AG Ferguson wants to require law enforcement statewide to report all uses of deadly force

Report to Legislature recommends centralized, easily accessible statewide website on incidents

Most Read