PCC Community Markets, the largest community-owned food market in the United States, will move the opening of its planned Downtown Seattle store from this year to early 2022. However, in an effort to support the community now, PCC has introduced a Downtown Seattle Food Access Grant offering five grants totaling $25,000 to nonprofits dedicated to food access. The cooperative will begin accepting applications on Tuesday, June 22, and the grants will be awarded later this summer. Last year, PCC donated 1.7 million pounds of organic local food and products to 40 grocery rescue partners.
“PCC is committed to helping build back a vibrant and healthy Downtown,” said PCC CEO and President Suzy Monford. “When Downtown PCC opens in 2022, it will bring the neighborhood local, organic and sustainably sourced food. But we know that it is critical to address the growing food insecurity in our community now, and we are excited to offer our new food access grant program to support our downtown neighbors.”
As PCC opens new locations, each store teams up with a local food bank to extend food access programming in support of the surrounding community. While planning for the new Downtown location over the past year, PCC met with various food banks, meal agencies and community groups to best understand their needs. In these meetings, two themes emerged: the urgent need for emergency food services, and COVID-19’s ongoing disruption to traditional food access operations. To meet the current needs of these organizations, PCC has created the food grant.
“The pandemic has hit our Downtown community particularly hard,” noted Rachel Smith, president and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “PCC has a rich tradition of supporting our Seattle neighborhoods with their food access programs, and the new Downtown Seattle Food Access Grant comes at a pivotal time to help serve our community.”
The Downtown Seattle store will occupy 20,000 square feet in Wright Runstad’s Rainier Square project. Located in the heart of the city, the store will serve the Downtown, Belltown, West Edge, Pioneer Square and First Hill neighborhoods, and bring about 100 new union jobs to the surrounding area.
“While we were excited for PCC to join the Downtown community this year, we appreciate the co-op being forthright with this announcement and look forward to the eventual opening,” said Downtown Seattle Association President and CEO Jon Scholes. “We recognize the challenges posed to all businesses at this time and value PCC stepping up to support Downtown through the newly created grant program this year.”
With an active membership of more than 90,000 households, Seattle-based PCC Community Markets operates 15 stores in Washington state's Puget Sound area, encompassing the cities of Bellevue, Bothell, Burien, Edmonds, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond and Seattle. The co-op also plans to open new stores in Downtown Seattle and Madison Valley, and relocate its Kirkland location. In 2020, PCC gave more than 60% of its pretax earnings, including its first-ever dividend, to members and the communities it serves.