Tribe Shares Story on Fighting Local Hunger During the Pandemic

Tribe Shares Story on Fighting Local Hunger During the Pandemic

By Lisa Pemberton, Puyallup Tribal News Editor

Puyallup Tribal Councilwoman Annette Bryan joined U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier (D-WA) on a tour of the Emergency Food Network’s warehouse in Lakewood on April 9.

During the event, Bryan and Puyallup Tribal Housing Director Joanne Gutierrez and Stacy Crnich, CEO of the Bonney Lake Food Bank, shared their experiences of completely revamping their strategies and meeting the needs of their communities during the pandemic.

“Our partnership was instrumental in how quickly we were able to get food distributed into our community,” Bryan said.

Last year, more than 157,000 visits were made to food pantries and meal sites each month in Pierce County, 40 percent more than in 2019.

“We have seen a significant increase in families who are food insecure during this pandemic, and our food banks have really stepped up to help across the country,” said Rep. Schrier. “I’m proud that the American Rescue Plan expands eligibility for SNAP and increases the amount families receive for SNAP and WIC benefits until the end of September. Between the American Rescue Plan and the efforts of places like the Emergency Food Network and their partner food pantries, we can start to address food insecurity and make sure that families can put food on the table and ensure children can access nutritious food.”

Historically, the Puyallups were known to exhibit generous and welcoming behavior to all people (friends and strangers) who enter their lands. Today, this continues to ring true with their efforts to stop hunger locally.

Even while reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians was able to provide charitable contributions of $568,000 in the first two quarters of 2020. The third and fourth quarter information will be made available at a later date. Charitable contributions are part of the Tribe’s gaming compact with the state.

Four organizations that received large donations ($50,000 or more) are helping in the battle against hunger: the Emergency Food Network, Northwest Harvest, Nourish Pierce County and the Puyallup Food Bank.

The Tribe also donated money for grocery giveaways by Tacoma Public Schools Indian Education Program, and operated numerous food distribution events that were open to the entire community during 2020.

Schrier’s visit helped promote the American Rescue Plan Act, which includes $12 billion in key investments to food assistance programs. Learn more about it at