This is a difficult time for many, and food security is a challenge across our communities. Last week, the United Nations projected that because of COVID-19, the number of people facing severe food insecurity worldwide could double to 265 million. And here in the United States, unprecedented levels of job displacement and supply chain disruption have created a crisis for countless families, many seeking help for the first time in their lives.
Supporting the growing demands on our local food banks is a critical need and isn’t new for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. Every year, our employees rally together in a “Pack the Plane” food drive and collected enough donations to fill an equivalent of over 20 cargo aircraft (providing almost a half-million meals) last year. During our inaugural “Week of LIFT” of volunteering in our communities last October, our employees worked at several West Coast food banks to pack meals and sort goods to help feed those in need.
So, when we found ourselves with fresh food on hand following the suspension of our inflight service last month, we worked with our kitchen partners to donate 273,000 meals to community food banks in 16 states, like our hometown partners Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline.
That sparked an idea about how to further support families have the food they need to thrive. Last week, the Alaska Airlines Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit, pledged $200,000 to provide 896,000 meals to 14 local food banks across Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii. Together, we’ve donated over 1 million meals, but hope to double our impact by inviting our employees and guests to join us, if they can.
“This crisis has changed so much in our country – but the values of our employees have not. They and our partners, including our Chief Football Officer Russell Wilson and Ciara, Starbucks, and many others inspire us to do more,” said Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines Vice President of External Relations. “Between now and the end of May, we’re encouraging our guests, partners and employees to join us in the #MillionMealsChallenge to help fuel another 1 million meals for local food banks feeding our communities.”
The Alaska Airlines Foundation was founded in 1998 as a way to support the communities we serve through ups and downs – including during lean times like these. “We’re thankful to have foundation funds to be able to directly support people who need it most,” said Birkett Rakow, who also serves as chair of the Alaska Airlines Foundation board of directors.
Join the #MillionMealsChallenge
Give to your local food bank or one of our nation’s hunger relief partners. Here are some of ours: