Letters to the Editor

60-day milestones for new food bank

It is with much gratitude and an overwhelmed heart that we proudly share our 60-day milestone since beginning efforts toward opening the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank.

We are overcome and touched by this incredible community and how everyone has pulled together to make it happen. The Upper Valley has once again demonstrated that we care about each other and we take care of our own.

It is so true that it takes a community to run a sustainable food bank.  Here are some highlights of the past 60 days. On January 31, we cleaned and painted the food bank. In February, we held church food drives; accepted cooler and freezer donations, a Snoqualmie Valley Rotary Donation, and a weekly dairy drive by the Sallal Grange. In March, Food Lifeline and Northwest Harvest provided our first delivery. Boy Scouts held a food drive, Eastside Baby Corner provided items such as baby food, and we were part of a Breath of Aire fundraiser hosted by Doorways Ministry.

At the food bank, the state Department of Social and Health Services helped 48 people and took 26 new applications for food stamps.

Food banks are so important to so many people.  The United States Department of Agriculture has created the term “food security” to better understand the need for food in our society.  Food security is defined as “the access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” Food insecurity refers to “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”

In our community, food insecurity can happen for many different reasons. Someone falls ill and can no longer work. Someone is laid off and unable to find another job. Seniors with fixed incomes, employed people whose incomes do not cover all their basic necessities, contract workers whose job contract ends and isn’t renewed, may need help with food. Divorce or a death in the family can cause hunger.

Sadly, the list goes on and on.  Food insecurity means that children are going to school hungry; parents are missing meals so their children can eat; people are foregoing meals to pay for their medical bills.

We know these people. We meet them every day.  Our children sit next to them in school.  We rub elbows with them in the library, at the supermarket and in the park.  They are people struggling to make ends meet.  The Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank reduces the gap by assisting with their food needs.

The Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank is an important component of our healthy community and it is a sustainable model, if we all work together.  Finding resources that will provide quality food on an ongoing basis is key.  We are excited to partner with Northwest Harvest, Food Lifeline, Eastside Baby Corner and we are actively seeking additional partners. The Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank has also established local grocery rescue programs with North Bend Safeway, QFC, Snoqualmie Ridge IGA, Costco and other community grocery stores.  Combined, these resources provide roughly 60 percent of the food we distribute.

The monthly expenses associated with operating the food bank total $12,000.  Costs include food, electricity, water, garbage disposal and truck rental fees.  We are currently operating exclusively with volunteers in the space graciously provided by North Bend Community Church.  This is the same place, where the food bank for the Upper Valley has been, since opening its doors, when two women handed out food from the pastor’s garage.

Since the need is great and the resources are limited, it is important to use those resources wisely.  The goal of any food bank is to provide emergency food for three days to supplement what people don’t have—to remove the food insecurity and allow the focus to be on the family.  We strive to help break the cycle of poverty.  This is why the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank is committed to provide outside resources and opportunities beyond food assistance.  Hunger is just a symptom of a greater problem and working to build a partnership with the organizations that will take the pressure off is key to breaking the cycle.  Private office space allows us to connect with clients one on one, understand their needs and connect them to resources such as child care, health care and housing to name a few.

Thank you for being a community in action and a community we are proud to be a part of.  We appreciate and value our 200 volunteers and we welcome new friends.  Visit our website at www.snoqualmievalleyfoodbank.org or stop in and say “hi” on Wednesdays.

Heidi Dukich

Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank Executive Director

 

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