Photo courtesy of April Balsley, The Fife Free Press

The one-week extension on the annual Food Fight to benefit the Edgewood Fish Food Bank made all the difference in the world.

This year’s battle royale pitted Mill Ridge Village Executive Director Jennifer Reich against Fife-Milton-Edgewood Chamber of Commerce’s Director of Membership Development April Balsley for a bout to the finish.

The two “fought” over who could gather the most food to benefit those in need in our community. The friendly challenge started in early June and was set to last only two weeks, but the deadline was extended to allow for more donations between Reich’s “Team Red” (Reich) and Balseley’s “Team Blue.”

With a week to go in this second-annual event, both teams had gathered a combined 600 pounds of food and $450 in donations, but the final tally dwarfed that volume. The final tally is 1,331 pounds of donated food and $2,143 in donation. April’s Team Blue won with 488 pounds of food and $1,450 in donations against Reich’s Team Red with 843 pounds and $693 in donations.

Each team had their donation barrels placed around Fife, Milton and Edgewood, where people could drop off non-perishable food into the bin of their choice. The final push yielded members of the local referral group Ignite U to donate more than 1,200 cases of water.

“Last year, we distributed over a million pounds of food, so the drive total seems like a drop in the bucket. But, it isn’t to us. Oftentimes the food we receive during food drives gives our clients a variety we can’t afford to offer. I love this drive because it reminds our community members and local businesses about the continued need of some of our less fortunate neighbors, especially during the summer months,” said Food Bank Manager Kate Wright. “I am forever grateful to April and Jennifer for their energy and willingness to take on the FME Food Fight.”

People can still donate nonperishable food or money to Fish Food Bank, which serves 518,000 individuals facing significant hardships around Pierce County. Since 2008, the community’s need for food distribution through FISH has increased 132 percent. FISH Food Banks is the oldest and largest food bank network in Pierce County, with locations in Edgewood, Graham/South Hill, Lakewood, Northeast Tacoma, Northwest Tacoma, Southeast Tacoma and West Tacoma. FISH’s Mobile Food Bank visits a different location daily, including schools in the Bethel, Clover Park and Tacoma School Districts.

Because so many food bank clients need more than food, FISH opened Connection Centers and clothing banks to provide free clothing to families in need. At Fish, 97 cents of every dollar donated goes to food distribution. In 2015, more than $10 million of in-kind food was donated, and FISH spent an additional $380,000 procuring nutritious food to ensure a sufficient and balanced selection. For every $1 donated, FISH can distribute more than $9 worth of food. The average cost per meal is only 18 cents thanks to the 700 volunteers who make daily food bank operations possible. More information can be found at