Hauling Fruit, Making Friends, Serving the Public: a Pedaling Relief Photo Essay
The Pedaling Relief Project is one of Cascade's most popular volunteer opportunities because it combines community service, camaraderie, and the opportunity to exercise and explore Seattle by bike. It is sustenance on many levels.
Byrd Barr Place in Seattle's Central District is one of five Seattle food banks that partners with the Pedaling Relief Project. Byrd Barr Place has a long history of community service in the Central District and is named for civil rights leader Roberta Byrd Barr, and its services help more than 20,000 people per year.
On a recent Thursday morning I rode my bike up to Byrd Barr to participate in a food rescue and assist with a video about the Pedaling Relief Project and other Cascade initiatives.
After a team meeting led by Nancy Helm to review the day's work, half of the group pedaled to the PCC Community Market in Central District to rescue perishables while the remaining riders loaded up their bikes for some home deliveries and Little Free Pantry re-stocking.
After collecting nearly 500 pounds of food donated by PCC, the group pedaled the fruit, vegetables, bread, and other perishable items back to Byrd Barr Place for distribution to individuals in need of food assistance.
Pulling a Burley trailer loaded with fruit, Gina Hicks, above, was first to head out from PCC, followed below by Cascade super-volunteer Nancy Helm (left) and Northstar Cycling Club member Zorn Taylor, a frequent PRP volunteer.
Joseph Roberts pulled a heavy load with his e-bike, below.
Most impressive was Merlin Rainwater, 75.
Merlin did her first Pedaling Relief ride in the fall of 2020 and never stopped. "It has been a great opportunity to be with friends and do something useful while riding my bike," she says. "I'm 75, and my husband has some health risks, so we really need to be super careful during the pandemic. It's great to have something that I can do outdoors, with friends, and that serves the public."
Back at Byrd Barr, volunteer riders Kevin Spitzer (left) and Danny Fisher-Bruns stacked boxes of food for delivery to homes.
Nicole Brown, below, loaded up non-perishable items to re-stock several community free pantries, where individuals who are unable to get to a food bank can find edibles.
Nicole has been volunteering with the Pedaling Relief Project for about a year-and-a-half. She got involved after buying an e-bike, allowing her to quickly get into the city from her home in West Seattle. "I just love it so much," she says about the Pedaling Relief Project. "I discovered it was not only a great way to help the food bank, but also to socialize outside during the pandemic--and ride my bike." Nicole below at one of the community free pantries she re-stocks.
Looking for an opportunity to ride your bike while helping out? Visit our Pedaling Relief Project volunteer portal and find a food bank near you.
And learn more about Byrd Barr Place and its history of "helping people move from poverty to self-sufficiency and building the political strength and economic wealth of the Black community in Seattle."