Food banks can use items to round out what’s offered
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Although fewer people are visiting food banks versus last year, the need is still there. Because donations are up and less people are coming, area food banks are giving clients more food per trip.
Visitor numbers increased in 2020, but have fallen by 10 to 20 percent at area food banks this year. The Snohomish food bank, for example, served 605 households this June, down from 758 households in 2020 the same month.
Federal benefits are helping keep people afloat. Some food bank directors encourage people to save money and lean on food banks to fill home pantries.
“We call to check in, and people say they’re making more money on unemployment than they would while employed,” said Elizabeth Durand, the director of the Snohomish Community Food Bank on Ferguson Road.
In addition to food stamps, eligible families with children in public schools are receiving extra “Pandemic EBT” cash on food stamp cards. The latest “P-EBT” deposit came this summer.
The pandemic also jolted federal and state governments to increase food support, but what food banks receive is almost like a potluck: In addition to staples such as juice, rice and beans, one week a food bank might get pallets of canned peaches, the next it might be avocados.
Food banks rely on public donations to fill the gaps in between.
Cash is always king. Food banks can stretch dollars to replenish the shelves and ensure a variety.
“We’re constantly buying milk and dairy products,” said Chris Hatch, who oversees hunger prevention for the Volunteers of America Western Washington. Others report the same.
Fresh homegrown produce is gladly accepted from your garden. The Sky Valley Food Bank of Monroe, for example, offers fresh vegetables picked a day or so ago from its garden next door.
The Maltby Food Bank can use tuna, Hamburger Helper and pet food, its director Natalie Oswald said.
All food banks appreciate feminine products, paper products and bathroom products as donations. Hatch noted the VOA Everett food bank also takes diapers and pet food.
Imagine making yourself a quesadilla in the microwave: Where’s the cheese? Where’s the meat? Where are the vegetables? Where’s the tortilla? All are ingredients needed, which is what food banks mean by “rounding out” supplies.
A good donation is anything another family would eat, Durand said.
Canned soups, single-serve snacks, canned meats and canned vegetables are always popular. Before you do, just be sure to check the expiration dates. Food banks often “rescue” bread and pastries from grocery stores.
“We count on what people give through food drives to round out what’s on our shelves to provide a variety,” Sky Valley’s administrative director Carla Stewart said.
The COVID-19 pandemic upturned how people get food from food banks.
The Snohomish food bank has people mark lists of what they want and volunteers bring the order out.
At the Sky Valley Food Bank in Monroe, food is set out on tables for people to select for themselves. “When COVID first hit, we started delivering right to people’s doorsteps,” Stewart said. “Then it just became too hard to make the deliveries, so we went to drive-up.” The food bank adapted again to the outdoor market system this spring.
Volunteers of America’s Everett food bank, at 1230 Broadway, is doing similar outdoor distribution.
The Maltby Food Bank, at 21104 86th Ave. SE, prefers people use an appointment system ( www.maltbyfoodbank.org/order/ ) to avoid lines at the door.
All can use volunteers for specific tasks, such as driving to grocery stores to collect food.
The Everett food bank will be starting a full remodel soon which will give enough room to let people inside to shop. It plans to grow into where the VOA’s food storage warehouse was (the warehouse relocated to Arlington.) Hatch hopes it might be done before winter’s chill arrives, but the food bank relies on community donations.
“We have this opportunity to grow and look like a real grocery store,” Hatch said expectantly.
The Sky Valley Food Bank also is looking to expand with a big remodel. The next step for them is to find a contractor, Stewart said in mid-July.
Times when the public can get food:
Snohomish Community Food Bank, 1330 Feguson Road: Tuesdays, 3 - 6 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Drive up to the tent at the front of building. The Snohomish food bank also has a visiting bookmobile program.
Sky Valley Food Bank in Monroe, 233 Sky River Parkway: Tuesdays, 4 -6 p.m.; Thursdays, 9 - 11 a.m. The Sky Valley food bank also has vouchers for gasoline, past-due utility bills and eyeglasses.
The Rock Church in Monroe, 16891 146th St, SE: Wednesdays, 2 - 4 p.m. drive-thru service; and Fridays, starting at 4:15 p.m.
Everett VOA Food Bank, 1230 Broadway: Mondays, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 2nd & 4th Tuesday: 3 - 6 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Services also available at two places on Casino Road, see www.voaww.org/locations or call 425-259-3191.
Maltby Food Bank: Appointments to enter between noon and 2:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-668-7900. Masks are required inside; masks available for those without one.
Broadly, food banks are loosening geographic restrictions on who can get food. Their goal is to keep people fed.
Side note: The Snohomish food bank has a proxy program to send a friend age 16 or older to shop for the family. Delivery services are available for seniors and disabled individuals.
Public donation times:
Snohomish Community Food Bank: Tuesdays, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 9 a.m. to noon
Sky Valley Food Bank: Mondays through Thursdays, 9 to 11 a.m.
(Distribution at The Rock Church) Provide Hope coordinator Shannon Hill: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Everett Food Bank: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Deliver food to the back alley parallel to Broadway off of 12th.
Maltby Food Bank: Call 425-668-7900.
To donate money for the VOA remodel, specify your donation is for the “Everett Food Bank remodel.”
Snohomish: 360-568-7993; email@example.com
Monroe: 360-794-7959; firstname.lastname@example.org
Everett: 425-259-3191; email@example.com
Maltby: 360-668-7900; firstname.lastname@example.org
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