Tukwila Pantry a local staple for food, meals

Joe Tice walks from table to table as he visits with the dinner guests. "Watch out for her, she's a sassy one," Tice said of one woman. "What, no hug tonight?" Tice asked a couple of children as they showed up with their families for dinner. A similar scene repeats itself every Tuesday evening, as an average of 145 to 185 people attend a free dinner offered by the non-profit Tukwila Pantry in a room at the Riverton Park United Methodist Church.

Joe Tice

Joe Tice walks from table to table as he visits with the dinner guests.

“Watch out for her, she’s a sassy one,” Tice said of one woman.

“What, no hug tonight?” Tice asked a couple of children as they showed up with their families for dinner.

A similar scene repeats itself every Tuesday evening, as an average of 145 to 185 people attend a free dinner offered by the non-profit Tukwila Pantry in a room at the Riverton Park United Methodist Church.

Organized by Tice, the meal has become a staple to those in need.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” said Kacey Johnston, of SeaTac, as she had dinner there on a recent Tuesday. “I enjoy being out with other people and the food is superb.”

Tice works as the executive director of the Tukwila Pantry. Besides the 5:30 p.m. Tuesday dinner, the program runs a food bank from 1:30-3:45 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 12:30-2:30 p.m. Friday.

Tice, 51, founded the food bank 10 years ago after listening to the then-pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist preach the same message over and over that the church needed someone to help start a food bank. Tukwila residents had to go to Des Moines or Seattle if they needed a food bank.

“I listened to that for six months from the pulpit,” Tice said. “We started out with just one room for food and clothing and the first year we served about 300 families.”

Now the food bank receives more than 2,000 household visits a month, although a number of those are repeat visitors. About half of the people come from Tukwila, many within walking distance of the church. Others are from SeaTac, Burien and South Seattle.

The Tukwila Pantry started the weekly dinners about five years ago after the church had hosted the homeless several times through the Tent City program offered by Seattle Housing and Resource Efforts, also known as SHARE. Tice visited a free meal offered each Friday at a church in the University District of Seattle to see how to run a weekly meal.

“We get quite a few seniors, a lot of families as well as homeless and people in transition,” Tice said.

‘Mini United Nations’

Rev. Jan Bolerjack, of Riverton Park United Methodist, described the variety of people who attend the dinner.

“It’s like a mini-United Nations because of the diversity of people,” Bolerjack said.

Tice’s work has impressed Bolerjack.

“He’s built quite a program,” she said.

Tice deflects much of the praise, instead focusing on the efforts of fellow workers here. Annette Washington has served more than two years as the volunteer chef. Joseph Pauza has served three years as a dinner leader to help organize the meals.

“Without Joseph and Annette, the dinners would not get pulled off,” Tice said.

Washington shows up as early as 8:30 a.m. to prepare the Tuesday meals. Albertson’s and Sam’s Club donate meat to the program and Washington finds the rest of the meal items based on that week’s food-bank supplies.

“It’s very rewarding,” Washington said of cooking the meals. “There is a God-given right to have food. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.”

Pauza first worked at the food bank because of court-ordered community service. Now he has found the volunteer work as one way to stay out of trouble and away from drugs.

“I can focus my time and energy on something good instead of something destructive,” Pauza said.

As many as a dozen volunteers put on the meal and others help at the food bank.

The Tukwila Pantry receives funding from the cities of Tukwila and SeaTac, King County and private donations. The pantry works with Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline to help stock the food bank. The program operates on a budget of about $158,000 per year.

Tice ran a nursery business in Washington and California before returning to Tukwila in 1995. He worked several years in the rental car business before his volunteer work at the food bank turned into a full-time job.

“This was the community I was born and raised in and the church I was born and raised in,” Tice said. “It’s one way to be able to give back to the community I grew up in.”

Learn more

The Tukwila Pantry serves Tuesday dinners at 5:30 p.m., and operates as a food bank 1:30-3:45 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 12:30-2:30 p.m. Friday.

The pantry is located at Riverton United Methodist Church, located at 3118 S. 140th St., Tukwila. For more information or to donate to the program, go to www.tukwilapantry.org or call 206-431-8293.

[flipp]

More in News

Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and Page Carson Foster. Photo credit Washington State Legislative Support Services
Carson Foster serves as page in Washington State House

The following was submitted to the Reporter: Carson Foster, a student at… Continue reading

Jim Pitts stands on walkway overlooking filtration chambers at the King County South Treatment Plant in Renton. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Human waste: Unlikely climate change hero?

King County treatment plant joins effort to counteract effects of carbon dioxide.

Washington State Capitol Building. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Legislation targets rape kit backlog

WA has about 10,000 untested kits; new law would reduce testing time to 45 days

File photo
Law enforcement oversight office seeks subpoena power

Organization has been unable to investigate King County Sheriff’s Office.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Natural Resources/Kari Greer
Western Washington faces elevated wildfire risk in 2019

Humans cause majority of fires in state

Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County approves bargaining agreement with 60 unions

Employees will receive wage increases and $500 bonus.

Call for peace, unity, understanding

City, county and state leaders show support of Islam community in wake of massacre at New Zealand mosques

King County bail reform hinges on pretrial decision making

Data on inmates has shown that being held pretrial affects the likelihood of conviction.

State smoking age rising to 21 in 2020

Legislature approves change

A man addresses the King County Council during a public hearing March 20 at New Life Church in Renton. He presented bags filled with what he said was hazardous materials dropped on his property by bald eagles. Another speaker made similar claims. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Locals show support for King County waste to energy plant

Public hearing on landfill’s future was held March 20 in Renton.

Defense Distributed’s 3D printed gun, The Liberator. Photo by Vvzvlad/Wikimedia Commons
‘Ghost gun’ bill moves to Senate committees

Legislation would make 3-D printed guns illegal.

King County Council with Sarah Reyneveld, chair of the King County Women’s Advisory Board. Photo courtesy of King County
King County proclaims March as Women’s History Month

This year’s theme is Womxn Who Lead: Stories from the past and how they influence the future.