Vertically integrated partnership holds major food serving event to stop hunger in southwest seattle

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The 'Vertically Integrated Partnership to Feed Those in Need' (Vertically Integrated Partnership or VIP) recently held a barbeque at Greenbridge Plaza in White Center (Southwest Seattle) and served over 2,000 people in need a BBQ meal including chicken, sweet corn, potato salad, dinner rolls, soft drinks, etc. as part of the Governor's Feeding Washington (http://www.governor.wa.gov/feedingwashington.asp) initiative.

The Vertically Integrated Partnership or VIP is a coalition of farmers, food processors, food distributors and other food service companies that are working together to help stop hunger in the Pacific Northwest. The VIP includes Sodexo, Annie's Fun, Hirai Farms, Sysco, Food Services of America, McCain Foods, National Frozen Foods, Farmer Bean Company, Darigold, Franz Bakery, and UW Housing & Food Services, etc. For example, the food at the event was prepared by chefs from Sodexo and University of Washington Housing & Food Services.

Kerwin Higashi, a Co-Chair of the VIP and Vice President of Sodexo, was a catalyst in helping to coordinate and organize the recent event, and was instrumental in pulling in several other VIP partners to participate in the event.

Blaine Hirai of Annie's Fun and Hirai Farms and a Co-Chair of the VIP stated that Kerwin Higashi of Sodexo has been a champion of the Vertically Integrated Partnership and the recent event at White Center illustrates the effectiveness of the VIP in the fight against hunger. 'Kerwin's vision to bring together a vertically integrated coalition of partners to stop hunger in the Pacific Northwest has really gained momentum ... this event at White Center was a tremendous success,' said Hirai.

Rick Jump, Executive Director of the White Center Food Bank, thanked the VIP and its partners (i.e., Sodexo, Annie's Fun, Hirai Farms, Sysco, Food Services of America, McCain Foods, National Frozen Foods, etc.) for their vision in doing 'such a large scale and classy food serving event' for those in need in Southwest Seattle. 'When Kerwin Higashi and Blaine Hirai first approached me last year about wanting to prepare and serve a BBQ meal for over 2,000 people in need, I was astounded and very excited about the idea,' said Jump. 'The event exceeded my expectations and I hope that the White Center Food Bank and the VIP and its Co-Chairs Kerwin Higashi and Blaine Hirai will continue to work together to do an event like this every year in the Seattle area.'

Since 2008, the VIP (Vertically Integrated Partnership) has donated enough food for nearly 2 million meals to several food banks in the Pacific Northwest, including Northwest Harvest, Second Harvest, Food Lifeline, White Center Food Bank, Quincy Community Food Bank, Wenatchee Food Bank, Moses Lake Food Bank, etc. The VIP has a goal of donating 5 million meals in the future.

Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse, Sen. Joe McDermott, Sen. Steve Hobbs, Rep. Sharon Nelson, Rep. Bob Hasegawa and Rep. Eileen Cody and various community leaders from the greater South Seattle area attended and/or spoke at the event and/or helped serve food to those in need. During his remarks to the crowd of several hundred people at the event, WSDA Director Dan Newhouse praised the VIP and its partners for their continued work under Governor Gregoire's Feeding Washington initiative to help to stop hunger in Washington State.

For more information about the recent July 29th VIP food donation and food serving event in White Center (SW Seattle), please refer to the below links and photos about the event or contact Kerwin Higashi or Blaine Hirai at verticallyintegratedpartners@gmail.com or giving@anniesfun.org -- or 509-693-7811 or 360-878-7073, or Rick Jump of the White Center Food Bank at rick@whitecenterfoodbank.org or 206-762-2848.

http://picasaweb.google.com/113801520809907951729/072910VerticallyIntegratedPartnershipFeedingWashingtonFoodServingEventInWhiteCenter?feat=directlink

http://whitecenternow.com/2010/07/30/white-center-food-bank-welcomes-hundreds-at-greenbridge-event/

http://www.wccda.org/home/wccda/928

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