North Bend's food bank and the real face of Valley hunger | Opinion

Over the last few years, Heidi Dukich has given out countless pieces of paper and pens, advising her clients at the Mount Si Food Bank to write down their goals and resources, and visualize a pathway out of poverty, toward success.

She points them in the direction of the library, where anyone can book two hours of Internet time and find more resources, or classes.

Helping people is about a lot more than food. But the act of giving food can be the pathway to changing lives permanently and for the better.

Education is being pushed here, as is connection. Example: The contact cards at places like the North Bend Library, giving details of ways to get food help for teens and seniors. Or the social service representatives who meet people, often outside for a lack of space.

Dukich, who’s helmed the food bank as director for three years, brought last week’s showing of “A Place at the Table” to North Bend Theatre for a reason. It’s important for the community to be aware of what hunger really is, and who the hungry are.

While homelessness has gotten a lot of attention in the Valley in recent months—campers were banned in North Bend and will soon be banned in Snoqualmie, camps were demolished, and a winter shelter opened—it’s crucial to understand that the hungry in the Valley aren’t just the homeless.

The hungry are local families whose breadwinners are paid minimum wage. The hungry are the children of the needy. Some are local seniors whose medical costs make it hard to pay for food.

There are as many paths to hunger as there are different people who use the food bank.

Late fall is when the donations really hum at the food bank, but there’s still 400 families using it this spring. The Summer Cupboard program returns for a third season soon. The food bank serves about 300 children of the 800 kids who qualify for free lunch at local schools. To Dukich, that means there’s about 500 children out there who still need help.

Every week, summer or winter, whether donations go up or down, people have the same needs. The Mount Si Food Bank and its volunteers are still there to close that gap of nutrition, any way they can.

This spring is a good time to learn more about the food bank, and maybe do some good, yourself.

People who want to help can visit the website, mtsifoodbank.org, or simply call (425) 888-0096. There’s a volunteer tab on the site listing upcoming opportunities to help and extra jobs.

Upcoming food bank events:

• Plant a Row: With warm spring weather, locals are urged to plant an extra row of vegetables for the food bank. When the produce is ready, bring it to the food bank.

• Letter carrier food drive: Postal carriers will collect nonperishable food from mailboxes on Saturday, May 11.

• Crop Walk: This walk, for  “Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty,” is 12:30 p.m. Sunday, May 19, starting from Meadowbrook Farm, 1711 Boalch Ave., North Bend. It’s a fundraiser and benefit that helps the food bank as well as international hunger efforts.


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