A Brief History of FISH

Early 1970s:

A group of Pierce County churches partner to form Food First Food Banks.


Associated Ministries begins coordinating Food First Food Banks.

Southeast Tacoma FISH begins operations at Lutheran Church of Christ the King.


Northwest Tacoma FISH begins operations.

Lakes Area FISH begins, operated by Christ Lutheran Church and Little Church on the Prairie.


FISH Administrative Office moves to Associated Ministries; director becomes full-time. Working relationship between FISH Food Banks and Associated Ministries is formalized with a signed covenant agreement.


FISH Food Banks partners with The Salvation Army and the Tacoma Rescue Mission to form the Emergency Food Network (EFN).


FISH incorporates as FISH Food Banks of Pierce County, including all the Pierce County FISH groups.


FISH adds food banks in Roy and Graham, for a total of eleven sites. At this time there are also 25 affiliated food bank locations, more than 600 volunteers, and two full-time paid staff.


NW Tacoma FISH consolidates its rotating food bank locations into a single site at Mason United Methodist Church.


Southeast FISH expands to add additional space.

Edgewood Community FISH moves into new quarters at the Edgewood Community Center on the campus of Mountain View Lutheran Church.


Recognizing that many food bank clients need more than food, in 2009, FISH Food Banks becomes the first food bank organization in the county to offer extended services, through a “Connection Center” partnership with South Sound Outreach Services (SSO). By making an SSO outreach specialist available onsite in the larger food banks, FISH offers clients a single point of access for dozens of community resources, government subsidies, medical and housing options.


FISH Food Banks launches the Mobile Food Bank, designed to reach areas of the county with high need but no food bank access. It is Pierce County’s first completely self-contained mobile food bank and one of only a few in the country.


FISH Food Banks served 518,000 individuals facing significant hardships. Since 2008, the community's need for food distribution through FISH has increased a staggering 132%.

Present: FISH Food Banks is the oldest and largest food bank network in Pierce County, with locations in Edgewood, Graham/South Hill, Lakewood, Northeast Tacoma, Northwest Tacoma, Southeast Tacoma and West Tacoma. FISH's Mobile Food Bank visits a different location daily, including schools in the Bethel, Clover Park and Tacoma School Districts.

Because so many food bank clients need more than food, FISH opened Connection Centers in the largest serving sites, as mentioned above. Clothing banks provide free clothing to families in need at two food banks. 

AT FISH, more than 97% of every dollar donated goes to food distribution. In 2015, more than $10 million of in-kind food was donated, and FISH spent an additional $380,000 procuring nutritious food to ensure a sufficient and balanced selection.

FISH is committed to making the most effective use of all funds and food donated. For every $1 donated, FISH can distribute more than $9 worth of food. The average cost per meal is only 18 cents. 700 volunteers make daily food bank operations possible.