Food lifeline honors ending hunger award recipients at special luncheon in seattle


Food Lifeline, Washington's largest hunger relief organization, honored the recipients of the 2010 Ending Hunger Awards at its 13th annual Bag Hunger Luncheon on Thursday, September 23 at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Seattle. The event raised $110,000, equivalent to providing 440,000 meals for hungry people in Western Washington.

The Ending Hunger Awards are presented to individuals and companies that have made an effort to go above and beyond their traditional role to support Food Lifeline's mission to end hunger. Awarded since 1998, the Ending Hunger Awards were presented for the first time exclusively at Bag Hunger in 2008.

Among the recipients were Blaine Hirai, CEO and Owner of Hirai Farms and Chair of Annie's Fun, and Kerwin Higashi, Senior Vice President of Sodexo's NW Metropolitan Business Group, who both received the 'Outstanding Food Donor Award.' To see a photo of Kerwin Higashi and Blaine Hirai holding their Ending Hunger Awards at the recent luncheon in Seattle, click the following link:

Hirai and Higashi are co-chairs of the Vertically Integrated Partnership, a coalition of farmers, food processors, food distributors and food service companies that are working together to help stop hunger in the Pacific Northwest. Since 2008, the Vertically Integrated Partnership has donated more than three million pounds of food (potatoes, sweet corn, onions, beans and canned goods) to food banks in Washington State.

'Our work has just begun,' said Kerwin Higashi on behalf of the Vertically Integrated Partnership and Sodexo. 'Our goal is to donate at least five million pounds of food over the next couple of years.'

'This is a partnership and one of the things we are working on is to not only continue doing this, but to do it better and to sustain it for many years,' said Blaine Hirai, CEO and Owner of Hirai Farms and Chair of Annie's Fun.

Prior to the Ending Hunger Awards presentation, Sheila Zedlewski, Director of the Income and Benefits Policy Center at the Urban Institute, spoke at the Bag Hunger Luncheon about staggering new poverty statistics released by the U.S. Census on September 16, 2010. The statistics report that nearly 44 million Americans lived in poverty in 2009, an increase of 3.8 million from 2008.

'As unemployment and poverty increases during this great recession, many more families turn to organizations like Feeding America and Food Lifeline as a safety net for help,' said Zedlewski. 'The demand for private food assistance programs has increased dramatically, providing a critical supplement to federal assistance that is simply not sufficient for most families.'

In addition to Sodexo, Annie's Fun and Hirai Farms receiving the 'Outstanding Food Donor Award,' Ending Hunger Awards also went to the following other individuals/companies:

  • Outstanding Corporate Donor Award - JPMorgan Chase
  • Outstanding Volunteer Award - Barney Garton
  • Raising Hunger Awareness Award - Thierry Rautureau
  • Special Appreciation Award - Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (SMCU)

Bag Hunger Luncheon Event Sponsors included:

  • Title Event Sponsor - Moneytree, Inc.
  • Participating Event Sponsor - The Boeing Company

For more information about the recent Ending Hunger Awards presentation ceremony in Seattle, contact Linda Nageotte of Food Lifeline at 206-545-6600 or

About Food Lifeline

Food Lifeline ( is a local hunger relief organization, efficiently serving the Western Washington area by using 95% of revenue to directly feed hungry people. Last year the organization delivered more than 17 million meals to hungry people through its network of more than 300 neighborhood food banks, hot meal programs, shelters and other food providers. Food Lifeline is also a member of the national organization, Feeding America.

About Feeding America

Feeding America (formerly known as America's Second Harvest - The Nation's Food Bank Network) is the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through its network of more than 200 member food banks, Feeding America annually provides assistance to more than 25 million people in need, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. For more information about Feeding America, visit

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