Partnering for Food Security: Nourish Pierce County

Filed Under: Vibrant Community - Posted @ 11:31am

At Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, we’ve seen how much more we can accomplish when we work together.  Since 1981, community members have shared their commitment to a thriving Pierce County by partnering with GTCF to bring their vision to life and build a legacy for future generations.  In our 2018 yearbook, Pierce County Partners, a few of our partners shared their lessons and insights from working to strengthen Pierce County.


Nourish Pierce County has a vision to create pathways to move people from scarcity into security. Part of ensuring long-term organizational sustainability for that vision included placing its endowment funds with GTCF.

“This place wouldn’t function without partnerships. First and foremost are volunteers. That is a huge partnership.” 

Nourish Pierce County feeds 74,000 people in Pierce County through innovative services which Executive Director Sue Potter credits to partnerships, “This place wouldn’t function without partnerships. First and foremost are volunteers. That is a huge partnership.”

One volunteer, former Nourish board member Mike Mowatt, transformed how they get food to local areas where it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food, “Mike has been a truck driver, owned restaurants, owned a monument business – a very smart, hardworking guy. He developed our very first mobile food bank. It goes from Bethel School District in Roy, through Tacoma and Lakewood, Tillicum, Woodbrook, and all the way out to Key Peninsula. And it wouldn’t have happened without Mike.”

By partnering with the Washington State University Food Sense extension program, Nourish’s grocery-style food banks also feature food tasting, nutrition education, SNAP education, and recipes and cooking demos for unfamiliar ingredients.

Sue remembers one particular food donation Nourish received, “pigs ears. And to me, a pig’s ear has always been like a dog treat. But in the south, they are a barbecue delicacy. Also in Mexico and Central and South America, they are pretty popular.

“We had a lot of them, and we didn’t know what to do with them, and people weren’t taking them. So, I called our friends over at WSU Food Sense. And they had a wonderful gal there who found these great recipes.

“People tasted them, and they went out the door. And now there are people who have asked me, are we going to get more of those in? They are great. We converted a few people to the beauty of pig’s ear sandwiches.

“We have done that with lentils and spaghetti squash, and other sort of interesting produce that maybe folks don’t know how to prepare, or what it tastes like, or they are intimidated by.”

Responding to a basic need, Sue sees Nourish giving people more than just food, it’s “nourishing that hope and the community of support and nourishing your heart as a volunteer.  Knowing you are helping your neighbor is quite a lovely feeling.  And kind of nourishing your faith in humanity.”