Guard joint task force concludes food distribution support services
By Sgt. Adeline Witherspoon
122nd Public Affairs Operations Center
CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – Joint Task Force Steelhead, Washington state’s COVID-19 response force, has concluded its mission in support of the Washington state Department of Agriculture.
The National Guard -- through JTF Steelhead -- has enabled over local food banks to expand their community support operations to include food delivery services, clothing distribution, backpack programs, and the revitalization of previously closed distribution sites.
“This mission, although initiated by COVID…provided an opportunity to serve our communities,” said Army National Guard Maj. Ricardo Wallace-Jimenez, an officer with food bank support services. “Our Soldiers and Airmen want to come back to volunteer on their own time because they believe in the mission and what they are doing here.”
JTF Steelhead provided mobile food delivery services on behalf of elderly citizens unable to travel safely, children’s organizations, and other high-risk communities throughout Washington State.
“We are so incredibly grateful to both the National Guard and the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management for this collaborative effort,” said Michelle Douglas, CEO of Emergency Food Network.
Since March of 2020, JTF Steelhead has supported 79 food banks and distribution centers across the state, providing 6.4 million meals and 98.7 million pounds of food.
"They have kept us alive,” said Sue Potter, chief executive officer at Nourish Pierce County. “They’ve kept our neighbors in need fed, and if we didn’t have them the pandemic would have shut down all…of our sites and so many more people would need food.”