Addressing food security is something that Laura Ryser has been involved with for a long time. Laura serves as the Director of WSU Kitsap County Extension and an Assistant Professor, Food Systems & Community Development. She describes food security as, “The ability of any individual or family to access and afford the food that they need on a day-to-day basis.” Other factors include whether stores are located within a one-mile walking distance, and if there is a variety of food at those stores that people can afford.  Additionally, food security also depends on stores that accept benefits such as EBT, WIC or Senior Nutrition vouchers so that those benefits can be accessed.

And now Laura is joining the COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center to tackle these issues in Kitsap County as its Lead overseeing food security. “I’ll be building relationships with various community food banks and other programs to help improve our approach as a county and to make certain that under-served populations know about available programs.  I’ll also work to secure grants to add improvements to existing operations and to pursue an expansion of services. Hopefully, we can move to a more collective approach that improves outcomes for people in need.”

One of the many projects to get off the ground is a mobile food pantry with the Kitsap Conservation District and the Central Kitsap Food Bank.  “The hope is to get fresh food to places like senior living facilities, for example, so the elderly don’t have the burden of getting to the food bank.”

While her role is more behind-the-scenes, Laura does have thoughts about how the public can get involved in improving food security in their community.  “If you are able and it is safe to do so, volunteering at an area food bank is something that would really help.  But if you can’t volunteer, you can still help improve the state’s awareness of food security issues by taking the Washington State Food Security Survey and sharing it with others.” 

For more on food security and food bank volunteer opportunities, please visit:

Kitsap Harvest

Kitsap Volunteer Center

North Kitsap Fishline (North Kitsap/Poulsbo)

Sharenet (Kingston)

Central Kitsap Food Bank

Bremerton Food Line

St. Vincent de Paul (Bremerton)

Salvation Army (Bremerton)

South Kitsap Foodline (Port Orchard)