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Home Team Harvest: Grocery cards change lives for Washington families fighting food insecurity

A donation ranging from $5 to $12 at a Safeway or Albertsons grocery store will help fund shopping cards for families who need help across Washington state.

SEATTLE, Wash. — The next time you head to an Albertsons or Safeway store to buy food for your family, partners of the Home Team Harvest initiative want you to think about others who may struggle to afford groceries.

KING 5 is once again teaming up with Northwest Harvest, Safeway, Albertsons and others to make the two-month campaign possible.

Now through Dec. 31, people can donate in person at an Albertsons or Safeway store or donate online. Donations will be collected through Dec. 31 and shopping cards in increments of $50 will be distributed in January and February.

Home Team Harvest leaders said cards are needed at the first of the year because so many donations and food drives provide help during the holidays.

Those who are interested can text "HOMETEAM" to 41444 to receive a link and make a donation.

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Shopping gift cards can go a long way for any family, according to Joy Hollingsworth, the western Washington hunger response specialist with Northwest Harvest.

"The Safeway gift card initiative allows shoppers to not only purchase food but also baby supplies, formula, gas, cleaning supplies," explained Hollingsworth. "All these different ways to be able to center dignity and it creates less food waste as well."

Last year's Home Team Harvest helped provide more than 20 million meals for families across Washington state. It's estimated one in 11 Washington households faces food insecurity.

This year's goal is 21 million meals.

Safeway and Albertsons employees said this initiative is a top priority.

Providing a place for people to shop is what they do every day, but Sara Osborne, the external affairs director for Safeway and Albertsons, said it needs to be accessible to everyone. 

Several organizations are joining this effort to get more shopping cards to families.

Osborne said other programs providing services to families in need are now able to identify food insecurity and also give out shopping cards.

Some of the partner organizations include:

  • Washington Serves - Veterans programs
  • Afghan Health Initiative - Helping incoming refugees
  • Dignity for Divas - Support services for women transitioning out of homelessness
  • School Districts to send cards home to families to use on school breaks or weekends
  • Puget Sound Kidney Center - Helping patients who are food insecure
  • Central Area Senior Center

"There are a lot of families who don’t qualify for federal food assistance but are still living at the poverty line, and they are still greatly food insecure," said Osborne. "So, the cards also allow them to shop like their neighbors and pick out their food for their families."

Tune in to KING 5 at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, for a one-hour broadcast special highlighting the annual campaign and how it changes lives in our communities, with live cut-ins from select locations around the Puget Sound region.