Promoting Vegetarianism at Stevenson Elementary School in Seattle

Northwest  |  August 26, 2020
Tzu Chi Seattle volunteers deliver food to the Stevenson Elementary School in Seattle, WA.

Written by Yi-Ting Huang
Translated by Diana Chang
Edited by Dilber Shatursun

Since the summer had begun in Seattle, WA, the heat on July 27th took the cake for being the hottest so far. Nevertheless, Tzu Chi Seattle volunteers gathered into three groups to obtain, pack, and deliver food. Three Tzu Shao (Tzu Chi’s youth group) volunteers arrived at Tzu Chi Seattle to help pre-pack the goods. At around 3 PM, a total of nine Tzu Chi volunteers delivered the food to Stevenson Elementary School in the Bellevue School District to the families in need.

Tzu Chi Seattle volunteers prepare foods for distribution. Photo/Yi-Ting Huang

Sharing Vegetarian Foods at Stevenson Elementary

At Stevenson Elementary School, a majority of students come from low-income families. Tzu Chi Seattle volunteers have been caring for its underserved students and their families for more than four years. During this period, they provided tutoring services for students once a week. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, volunteers shifted their focus to provide vegetarian friendly foods for distribution at the school every other week.

Inspired by Master Cheng Yen’s guidance, Tzu Chi volunteers are making it their mission to share the joys of vegetarian eating by donating foods that are meat-free & meat by-product free. In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables provided that day, the delivery also included 20 boxes of Jing Si Instant Rice, shipped directly from Global Tzu Chi Headquarters in Taiwan. On each package, there was a QR Code to help give information on the origin and development of the rice as well as directions for preparation.

Volunteers took this opportunity to promote the benefits of vegetarianism and bond with the families from this school. They explained that reducing consumption of meat could help prevent the world’s next major, animal-borne illness. With these 20 boxes of Jing Si Instant Rice, each box contained 27 packages, making it a total of 540 bags. Each bag contained 3-4 servings, making each box of potential benefit to 2,160 people. Tzu Chi Seattle volunteer Tiffany Chang prepared six servings of Jing Si Instant Rice lunch box for the staff members at school to demonstrate its convenience and for them to try it, too.

In addition to the fresh fruits and vegetables, the food distribution included 20 boxes of Jing Si Instant Rice. Photo/Yi-Ting Huang
Volunteers bring vegetarian bento lunch boxes for the school staff to sample Jing Si Instant Rice. Photo/Yi-Ting Huang

Tutoring Students on the Regular

Melissa Slater, the distribution director of Bellevue School District, and Julie Mclntyre, a Family Specialist, made a special trip to Stevenson Elementary and met with the Tzu Chi volunteers. Melissa shared, “we’re grateful for Tzu Chi’s help and support to the students and families since the school’s closure. We appreciate all that’s been donated during this difficult time.”

Donated food from Tzu Chi volunteers gives families in the Bellevue School District a helping hand. Photo/Yi-Ting Huang

Julie emphasized that Tzu Chi volunteers played an important part in Stevenson Elementary. She explained that, “when we mentioned to the volunteers that we don’t have a tutoring plan… Tzu Chi volunteers did their best to help our school with the resources and started tutoring students every Monday. It has been going on for more than four years.”

Then, even during the pandemic, Julie said that “Tzu Chi volunteers still came and said, ‘we need to know what the families need.’” She said that it left a huge impression on her, and their dedication to the families and students of Stevenson Elementary has motivated her, too.

The pandemic has put many things on pause – but not Tzu Chi volunteers’ care for vulnerable families. Support our volunteers, like those at Tzu Chi Seattle, with the resources they need to show meaningful aid and love as the pandemic continues.

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