Bellingham resident, Rain, has been going through an extremely difficult time, unable to find a consistent living situation. Recently she found herself unable to purchase meals for herself, so CascadiaNow! nonprofit family member Global Acts of Compassion (GAC) took direct action through their Nourishing Neighbors program and provided her with three gift cards to AB Crepes to keep her on her feet while she pursues sustainable living and work options. When presented with the gift cards, Rain couldn't help but hold back some tears as she expressed her gratitude. Three meals goes a long way, and being able to choose what you eat rather than just given food can really help keep up the morale and provide a positive outlook.
Nourishing Neighbors is a "pay-it-forward" program that lets patrons of local businesses donate towards the next meal for a community member in need. The goal of the Nourishing Neighbors program is to help alleviate food insecurity in Bellingham and encourage people to show compassion to their neighbors through donations. AB Crepes has set up a collection system that in the month of August alone collected over $90 in donations from the community. This resulted in GAC purchasing 9, $10 gift cards! La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza has donated ten, $10 gift cards to the program
The recipients of the pizza gift cards were the youth at Northwest Youth Services - a local shelter that houses at-risk youth and provides them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. The youth at the shelter were ecstatic when they found out they could have (quality) pizza as a meal instead of cup of noodles and granola bars. It also provided them a great opportunity to share a meal as a group and connect with those that are experiencing similar situations. Sometimes at the shelter, tensions can arise between the youth, but nothing brings people together quite like good food.
As the Nourishing Neighbors program continues, GAC seeks local businesses interested in setting up reoccurring donation systems like the one at AB Crepes. GAC is also looking into the possibility of taking left-over food from restaurants and grocers to those in need. This part of Nourishing Neighbors would cut down on food waste, provide more meals, and help reduce the negative environmental consequences of food waste.