Sea-Tac Airport food donation program enters 10th successful year

Jenna Josephsen, with Host-Starbucks, moving donated food from Host-Starbucks to the Airport’s food donation room for pick up by local food bank, 19 March 2013.

By Brian DeRoy
Port of Seattle

A bustling airport at first glance may not seem like a place for charity and community building, but for many area residents, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport provides a lifeline.

The Port of Seattle, which operates Sea-Tac Airport, recently named Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, the Des Moines Area Food Bank and HMSHost among its Green Gateway Award winners.

All three businesses play key roles in Sea-Tac’s innovative food donation program.

HMSHost, who operates many restaurants and food stands at Sea-Tac, donated 31,000 meals – (close to 40,000 pounds of food) through the food donation program. The company also donated $12,000 and 40 backpacks to support the Des Moines Area Food Bank’s Weekend Backpack Program for children.

“At the airport you’ll see things like sandwiches that companies are serving to travelers and they want it to be fresh food, so they change it out every single day, so a sandwich that’s a day old is still a perfectly good sandwich,” said Barb Shimizu, Des Moines Area Foodbank associate director. “Instead of that sandwich going into a trash heap somewhere it’s great that it can come to the foodbank and serve people in need.”

Sea-Tac’s food donation program is in its 10th year and has helped countless numbers of area residents.

In 2016, Sea-Tac donated nearly 25 tons of airport food (about 800 meals per week over entire year)

Since 2006, Sea-Tac Airport businesses donated nearly 230,000 pounds of food to people in airport communities (nearly combined weight of three empty Boeing 737’s)

Boxed salads and sandwiches are things that travelers take for granted, darting from one gate to another on a trip. But for those in need, those extra items are vital.

“It’s a huge help because its prepared food, things that people can take immediately and have,” Shimizu said. “It’s really great for emergency assistance, if people come at a time when we’re not open or homeless people who cannot prepare a meal.”
With its flagship store right across the street from Pike Place Market, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. The line for a free sample can stretch out the door! What you might not know is Beecher’s also has a location at Sea-Tac Airport and has led the way to give back. Beecher’s has donated more than four tons of food to the Des Moines Area Foodbank. The company is among many other Sea-Tac restaurants that compost and recycle.

Food donations bring another added benefit, less waste! Last year, Sea-Tac trimmed its landfill and disposal fees by around $3,500 thanks to the food donation program.

So next time you visit Sea-Tac, or see a plane flying overhead, consider the benefits the airport brings. From global travel connections to jobs and food donations, the Port of Seattle and its partner businesses are committed to improving our community, one person at a time.

For a full list of Port of Seattle Green Gateway Award winners, click here:

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