The Caring Economy
A Healthy Future
A Healthy Future
By Allyson Meyer
A bustling scene greets volunteers at the South Whidbey School District’s South Campus commercial kitchen. While grocery bags are packed and food is prepared, laughter fills the air. A sense of camaraderie emanates throughout the room. This is where Whidbey Island Nourishes (WIN) serves up a healthy future for South Whidbey’s children and aims to ensure that no child goes hungry.
The organization was founded by island resident Mary Fisher, who discovered unhoused teenagers in South Whidbey that were couch-surfing or living in the woods lacked reliable access to nutritious food. Originally affiliated with Good Cheer Food Bank and Thrift Stores, WIN became a separate nonprofit in 2011.
“WIN recognized ready-to-eat food options, especially for youth, were not part of the community offering at the time,” said Melinda Gardiner, executive director. “The program evolved from there. It started out to help homeless and displaced teenagers and then it recognized younger kids also needed those opportunities.”
Through creative solutions to reach adolescents in need, the organization has grown from its early days stocking free and ready-to-eat healthy food vending machines to its current weekend meal and daily snack programs. Along the way, the relationships forged with other community entities have strengthened the organization’s presence and impact. “In the beginning, we didn’t know how to reach kids until these partnerships and lines of communication were open,” said Pam LeLoup, president of the board of directors.
Article posted with permission from Whidbey Life Magazine.