• Gretchen Schmidt

Washington's largest food pantry opens in Seattle's SODO neighborhood

Metropolist is so lucky to be a part of the SODO business community. There are exciting things happening in our neighborhood. I'm excited to share some of them here on my blog.



Author: Kalie Greenberg

Originally posted on www.king5.com

Published: 7:05 PM PDT June 23, 2019

Updated: 3:12 PM PDT June 24, 2019


The food bank that opened in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood on Monday is unique. 

In fact, it’s so unique, the food bank’s creators at Northwest Harvest don’t even call it a food bank. “We arrived at 'community market.' It has this sense of community orientation,  a place where people come and have interaction as well as do their shopping,” said Northwest Harvest CEO Thomas Reynolds.

It’s called the SODO Community Market. Reynolds expects the market to help feed 5,000 people every week.



“We think as we transition into a community market model it’s going to be even more popular with more demand,” said Reynolds.


The $1.8 million project resembles a small, neighborhood market. Reynolds said Trader Joe’s served as their inspiration. Like the grocery store chain, Northwest Harvest will have be stocking shelves continually throughout the day to increase interaction between volunteers and shoppers.


Northwest Harvest also announced Monday a $600,000 donation from Amazon to help it close the gap in its capital campaign for the new SODO facility. The funds will also contribute to ongoing operational costs to keep shelves stocked with supplies

The SODO Community Market will replace the Cherry Street Food Bank, which Northwest Harvest operated for more than 35 years, but said the land was recently sold to a developer.


The market is on 4th Ave. near the Holgate intersection. It is within walking distance for many of Seattle’s homeless, but also is feet away from a Metro bus stop and light rail lines.  “There’s a lot of informal housing. There’s a lot of people in need and not a lot of services; we wanted to fill that gap,” said Reynolds.


Northwest Harvest said it’s trying to do away with concepts like "feeding the needy" and "helping the hungry" by creating a market that blurs the lines between a grocery store and food pantry.


“You’re going to able to get proteins, grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy things you need to feed your family, and there’s going to be no risk of embarrassment as you’re walking out the door,” said Reynolds.


People who use the store won’t need to sign-in or be limited to what they can take. Instead shoppers will check out like they would at a grocery store.

The building also offers community spaces, which Reynolds hopes can be used by other resource providers.  “This is a place where you can come get what you need, take home healthy groceries, and that’s the end of the story. We’re just happy you came,” said Reynolds.



The market's grand opening was Monday, June 24 at 1:30 p.m. 


Hours will be:

  • Monday 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m,

  • Wednesday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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