Vashon couple’s ministry provides food on island and beyond

“Our [intention] is that no child [goes] to bed hungry, that no adult [goes] to bed hungry.”

While passing through downtown Vashon, islanders may have noticed an assemblage of tables, loaded with food, across the street from Kathy’s Corner.

On Wednesday of last week, the tables were piled high with food, with many items suitable for a Thanksgiving feast, including ready-made pies, loaves of bread, bags of potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as a jumbo-sized cooler filled with meat

By mid-day Thursday, most of the food had vanished from the table.

The food on these tables comes and goes, as islanders stop to peruse what is offered. However, who is behind the creation of the tables?

The arrival of the tables and the assortment of food is the work of husband and wife team Tom and Lynette Hardy. The couple married in 2013, but Lynette Hardy initially moved to Vashon in 1997.

After they were married, the Hardys began helping those experiencing food insecurity by feeding people experiencing homelessness and doing outreach in the Tacoma area.

“We saw the need with the kids on the street in Tacoma when we first started,” said Lynette. “ And there’s a need on Vashon, and we saw that, and we thought, ‘Well, why not just put it out for the people on Vashon.’”

In addition to the location in downtown Vashon, the couple also drops food off in Dockton Park.

“If we have it, people get it,” said Tom.

However, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the couple was able to broaden their reach with the acquisition of a van and two box trucks. According to Lynette Hardy, they are able to feed 500 families a week currently. On Vashon alone, she estimates that between 75 to 100 stop for food.

No food goes wasted, Lynette said — whatever is left over goes to feed pigs and other animals on Vashon.

The Hardys operate their own nonprofit as part of their efforts, which they have named One in the Spirit Ministries. While the couple places food in Vashon, they have a larger outreach in surrounding areas, including Tumwater, Tacoma, Belfair and Sumner.

Their work demands that Tom and Lynnette rise early — leaving Vashon to pick up the day’s food at their distributor in West Seattle, Praisealujah Warehouse, a faith-based organization that supports individuals through substance abuse issues.

Once their truck or van is loaded with food from the warehouse, the Hardys drive to the day’s location. On Tuesdays, for instance, they’ll go to Sumner and bring items there. On Wednesdays, they’ll make a trip to Belfair. For Vashon, the couple hopes to regularly add to the tables near Kathy’s Corner every other Wednesday. They are also helped by other drivers, who make it possible to transport the food.

The Hardys do not, nor do any of their drivers, take a paycheck from the ministry’s work. Donations to the organization, said Lynette Hardy, go towards the purchase of food, maintenance of vehicles, fuel and ferry fares. In the last year, the organization paid $7,000 in ferry fares alone.

“It’s been a blessing, It’s been a huge eye-opener to see the needs, and how much we’ve grown, and how far the food goes,” said Lynette Hardy. “We feed a lot of people. And it’s pretty amazing.”

For the couple, One in the Spirit Ministries is part of their larger goal to end food insecurity in the area and assist those who need support. During the pandemic, for example, their ministry assisted in paying water bills for islanders who had become behind on their payments.

“… Our [intention] is that no child [goes] to bed hungry, that no adult [goes] to bed hungry,” said Lynette Hardy. “That nobody has to worry about, ‘Can I go to the pharmacy and pay for this prescription, or can I eat?’”

“We are blessed to be a blessing,” she said. “ … We want to see people on Vashon blessed.”

Jenna Dennison, a former reporter for The Beachcomber, now is an associate editor for The Astorian, a daily newspaper in Astoria, Oregon.