No Islander Goes Hungry campaign makes impact in the community

Mayor to proclaim Sept. 23 as MI NIGH Day.

Just over two months into its existence, the NIGH (No Islander Goes Hungry) campaign — aimed at increasing awareness of food insecurity on Mercer Island — has connected with the community.

At press time, the campaign had raised $8,785 toward the Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS) Foundation’s goal of $125,000 headed to its food pantry grocery gift card program. According to NIGH, 5% of the Island population falls below the poverty line with many households regularly using YFS food assistance support. The food pantry currently accepts only cash and gift card donations to grocery stores.

“We’re encouraged by the positive response to NIGH,” said Debbi Gillotti, vice president of the MIYFS Foundation Board.

At the Sept. 20 Mercer Island City Council meeting, Mayor Salim Nice is scheduled to proclaim Sept. 23 as MI NIGH Day to correlate with National Hunger Action Day and Hunger Action Month. On Sept. 23, Island households are asked to give $23 to, with 100% of the proceeds going directly to the food pantry, according to NIGH.

NIGH — which is a collaboration of the YFS department, MIYFS Foundation, Mercer Island Rotary Foundation, Mercer Island Farmers Market, Mercer Island Community Fund and Mercer Island Chamber of Commerce — initially presented its campaign to the community at Summer Celebration, Farmers Market and Mostly Music in the Park and will continue to accept donations in the coming months at the city’s recycling event, Harvest Market and MIYFS Tree Lot or online at NIGH will also apprise the community of its campaign through emails, its social media platforms and word of mouth.

“The community has been really receptive. This is a tremendously generous community that supports Youth and Family Services and our food assistance programs and our emergency assistance programs,” said Tambi Cork, YFS administrator. “That support in this COVID era has even surpassed the legacy of generosity that we’ve had here.”

Mercer Island was previously part of the regional Mayor Day of Concern for the Hungry emergency feeding program with local groups holding food drives, but that’s not on tap this time out.

“It created an opportunity for NIGH to kind of step in and fill the void of how do we recognize this day in a way that’s meaningful for Mercer Island?” Cork said.

According to YFS statistics, Island residents accessed the food pantry 3,377 times in 2021 with no sustained decrease in 2022. Usage of the pantry for this year currently stands at an average of 75 households a week, more than double the amount of households served weekly in 2020 pre-pandemic.

To address local food insecurity and how residents can lend a hand to those in need, the mayor’s proclamation reads, in part: “We all have a role to play in fostering a community that supports all residents in their times of need. MI NIGH DAY provides another opportunity for Mercer Island residents to stand together and show up for neighbors in need. YFS could not do this work without the generosity and support of the Mercer Island community.”

For food pantry services information, contact YFS Emergency Assistance Coordinator Cheryl Manriquez at For more information about YFS programs, visit