The Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank is open every Wednesday and on Monday mornings for a seniors-only time slot. During the summer, a teen-only distribution time will be available at 11:30 a.m. every Monday until Aug. 28. (File Photo)

Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank focuses summer programs on Valley children

The Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank has begun its summer programming for children and teenagers in the Valley. The food bank has three programs running this year to provide services to children before school starts back up in the fall.

Heidi Dukich, executive director of the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank, said that with school out, the summer is an important time to offer services to children in need.

“For summer we are responding to childhood hunger, we have our Meals for the Break for the summertime and this is our fourth year,” she said. “It’s a shopping concept so the families choose what their children will eat. We encourage the youth to shop for themselves because they are choosing from healthy food options. Part of it is food literacy, being familiar with healthy options.”

Meals for the Break provides kid-friendly breakfast, lunch and snack foods, along with the regular grocery options every week during the summer. A special shopping line created for parents and children to select their fresh produce and dairy for the week. Dukich said the food bank is in contact with the Snoqualmie Valley School District to determine the number of students on the free or reduced-cost meal program to get an idea of the number of people they need to accommodate.

The food bank is also starting a teen-focused shopping time, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., every Monday until Aug. 28, immediately following the senior shopping time. The usual food bank service hours of 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays are open to everyone, including teens. Dukich is also working with the school district and Teen Closet to get the message out on this program.

Dukich said that a lot of teens don’t consider the food bank as an option they can access for help, making it a hard demographic to reach. However, with more exposure from other community organizations they hope to change that.

“Shopping and providing food is usually an adult responsibility, it would not even cross their minds that they would be eligible to come to the store,” Dukich said. “It’s harder for them than adults, so we have a separate teen shopping time, so they don’t have to stand in line with everyone else.”

The Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank also offers guidance and resources to help clients with other tasks, such as signing up for county assistance programs. The teen shopping time gives that demographic access to groups like Friends of Youth to expand the reach of community resources.

For younger clients of the food bank, every Wednesday will have themed children’s activities in the Summer Journey of Fun program. In partnership with the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA and the King County Library, the program features various activities and guests, including the Snoqualmie Tribe, the North Bend Ranger Station, Valley Center Stage and the Snoqualmie Police and Fire Departments.

Each Wednesday, there will be new giveaways, raffle prizes, and the YMCA will provide sack lunches. July 5 has a birthday theme and July 12 has a “healthy planet” theme, with representatives from Master Gardeners on site to teach children about plants and nature.

“The idea behind that is to create community, let’s have fun and bring other organizations and business together like the fire department and the YMCA, wilderness biologists one week from the ranger station,” she said. “It’s to have fun in our community with our neighbors, but also to invite people who are not currently using the food bank and might benefit from our services, to check us out in a safe environment. Their kids can have fun, and it’s free.”

The Summer Journey of Fun activities will run every Wednesday until Aug. 23 from noon to 2 p.m., at the food bank on 122 E 3rd Street, North Bend.

“Our approach is serving the family, if we can get more families to help their kids that’s a plus for us,” Dukich said.

Learn more at www.snoqualmievalleyfoodbank.org.

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