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Upper Valley food banks split up, change places
The Mount Si Food Bank, which has provided food to the Valley’s needy population for 35 years, has been asked to leave its home of more than a decade at North Bend Community Church.
A new organization, the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank, started by former management of the Mount Si Food Bank, is slated to take its place at the church’s former parsonage garage.
Founded in 1975, Mount Si Food Bank helps more than 400 families each week with food, provides turkeys during the holidays and breakfast lunch for schoolchildren in the summertime.
Mount Si moving
Charlie Salmon, secretary and treasurer of the Snoqualmie Valley Ministerial Association, and pastor at Church on the Ridge, told the Record Monday that Mount Si Food Bank will move from its longtime North Bend location. Its staff are seeking a new site.
Mount Si Food Bank is a ministry arm of the Snoqualmie Valley Ministerial Association, an alliance of churches, which holds the organization’s non-profit license. Mount Si has a distinct faith-based foundation.
That faith, according to Salmon, specifically the desire by the association to rely on donations specifically for faith-based organizations, as opposed to taking a wider approach, was part of the basis of the split between management and the association last fall.
“There are significant monies that we say ‘no’ to in an effort to remain faith based,” Salmon stated. “This has worked for us for all these years and we see no reason to deny our faith.”
Both the Mount Si Food Bank and the new Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank made proposals to North Bend Community Church for use of the facility.
“We chose the one who we thought could serve the clients best,” Harold Erland, an elder on the North Bend Community Church leadership ministry team, told the Record.
Mount Si will move out this week, though it plans on serving food on Wednesday, Jan. 29, as stated on its Facebook page..
“Clients and donors need to know that we are not closing our doors, just relocating,” Mount Si Food Bank transition team leader Marilyn Erlitz told the Record in an e-mail. She said staff told clients to take what they need for two weeks.
“We are in the process of working out some accommodations for those in need for the coming week,” she said in an e-mail. “At this moment we do not have a new destination, but are in contact with those who can assist us in a new dwelling. Our mission is to continue to serve the community we have been serving for 30-plus years.”
“If the community knows of such a place we would be open to looking at it,” added Salmon.
He told the Record that all assets of the Mount Si Food Bank will follow it.
“All funds and resources (are) well accounted for, and the books are open for anyone to see, with the exception of individual donations that people want to be kept confidential, but all balances and expenses are available for anyone who cares or has been led to think money has been misappropriated or misused,” he stated.
The food bank’s approach has served the Valley effectively for many years, says Salmon, and will continue to do so.
“Our heart is to share God’s love with people in need through food and compassion,” he told the Record.
“If a new group feels the need to serve in a similar way, that is fine with me,” he stated. “God bless anyone who reaches out to those in need.”
The Mount Si food bank’s webpage is mtsifoodbank.org.
New food bank
In an open letter Friday, Jan. 24 (see page 7), Heidi Dukich, former manager of Mount Si Food Bank, announced the new organization, Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank.
This food bank is slated to open Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Mount Si’s longtime location, 122 E. 3rd St. in North Bend.
The name of the food bank is new, but much of the set-up is the same. Distribution is 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, the same hours as Mount Si. In addition to food, the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank will offer access to child care, energy assistance, health care and other services.The group is currently seeking tax exempt status.
Mount Si food bank’s board of directors resigned as a group this past fall, due to disagreements with the ministerial association over the food bank’s direction. Dukich followed a few days later.
“It was time for a change,” Dukich said. Board members, most of whom, with her, went on to form the new food bank, saw an opportunity to form an “all-inclusive food bank… It’s about the entire community, working together… working with churches, schools, local businesses,” she told the Record.
“It will take time to build up again, but we’ll be better for it,” Dukich said. “When you have vision, people want to help. We have a wonderful community of people who know and support our work.”
The food bank website is www.snoqualmievalleyfoodbank.org.