Held in partnership with events and promotion company Advanced Placement, Pacific Foods’ recent Community Day events in Seattle and Los Angeles brought together baristas and other coffee pros to provide food and supplies for in-need communities.
FROM STAFF REPORTS
Photos courtesy of Melissa Shaw Photography
Oregon-based Pacific Foods is well-known in the specialty-coffee community on many levels, whether as the manufacturer of the Barista Series line of plant-based beverages, or as a frequent sponsor and supporter of industry events, including barista competitions.
But Pacific is also well-known for its charitable contributions through its Nourish Every Body campaign aimed at fighting food insecurity. This commitment includes a 20-plus-year partnership with the Oregon Food Bank, through which Pacific has provided more than 9 million meals to food-insecure families. Additionally, employees at Pacific regularly pack boxes of food for schools in the Portland areas for kids to eat over the weekend.
Last month, Pacific Foods decided to build on its Nourish Every Body by launching Community Days in Seattle and Los Angeles. Taking place July 20 in Seattle and July 27 in Los Angeles, the events brought together those cities’ coffee communities to build care kits of food and hygiene items to be distributed to those in need. “It’s such a joy to be part of the giving that Pacific does, so we wanted to develop a way for the barista community to participate as well,” says Nathanael May, Pacific’s customer marketing manager—specialty coffee.
To bring the Community Days to life, Pacific enlisted the help of Advanced Placement, an events and promotions company from coffee-industry veterans Joshua Boyt and Jay Lijewski. Says Nathanael, “Jay and Joshua have been colleagues of ours for a long time, so when they reached out to learn more about Pacific Foods as a company, we were excited to entertain the possibilities that came with partnering with them.”
Jay says that he and Joshua were floored upon touring Pacific Foods’ Tualatin, Ore.-based facilities. “I half-expected big vats of garlic powder for the soups. What I saw were colossal bins of whole-clove organic garlic, fresh onion, and spotless floors,” says Jay. “The whole facility is on a wetlands and so they hired an on-staff agronomist to care for those wetlands. They have their own on-campus wastewater treatment facility that purifies more water than the city they are in.”
Jay says that upon discovering a new facet of Pacific, he and Joshua wanted to amplify this discovery to a bigger audience through Advanced Placement. “This has been going on for 30 years and we had no idea,” Jay says. “Joshua and I felt like we had to try to communicate all that we learned while on this tour because it’s just too great for the coffee community not to know about. So, we put together a way to take all of this good to the coffee community. Community Day was born.”
For the events, Joshua and Jay went to 80 different coffee shops in Seattle and Los Angeles to spread the word and gather volunteers. Pacific donated three days’ worth of ready-to-eat food items, and the team sourced personal hygiene items including toothpaste/brushes, deodorant, tampons, shower wipes, and socks. These items were assembled into 10-liter dry bags by the team of volunteers and delivered to organizations that are providing care for homeless/transitional members of each community—100 care kits per city. The partnering organizations were Compass Housing Alliance in Seattle and The People Concern in Los Angeles.
Nathanael says the Pacific Foods and Advanced Placement teams were inspired to see the spirit of coffee communities in both Seattle and L.A. as they responded to the event. “They are two very different cities with very different barista communities, but what they have in common is a love of service, and a love for people,” he says. “Even when people weren’t able to come and participate, you could see in their faces the desire to be part of something that was real and genuinely helped people.”
Jay adds that while the initial Community Days were a success in helping those in need, the events are also having unexpected lasting effects. “All we wanted was to gather coffee pros in each city for one day of community care,” Jay says. “What we found was that in each city the volunteers wanted more! After a day to digest their efforts, we received a lot of emails from volunteers in both cities asking us to put them in contact with Compass and People Concern. They were moved to keep the relationship going. That meant everything to us.”
With the initial Community Days now in the books, Nathanael says Pacific is excited to hold additional events in the near future. “More information about when and where the next Community Day is happening is coming soon,” he says.
To find out more about Pacific Foods’ Nourish Every Body campaign, check out the website here.