Feeding the need: Snoqualmie Valley’s food banks rise to winter challenges

North Bend resident Dave Kelley’s little red truck goes all over town. As a volunteer driver for Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank, Kelley ferries food donations from Valley and Eastside supermarkets, hitting up the local Safeway, QFC and IGA, and going as far afield as Costco and the Redmond Whole Foods, in what’s almost a daily operation. “He’s everywhere,” said food bank Executive Director Heidi Dukich.

North Bend resident Dave Kelley’s little red truck goes all over town.

As a volunteer driver for Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank, Kelley ferries food donations from Valley and Eastside supermarkets, hitting up the local Safeway, QFC and IGA, and going as far afield as Costco and the Redmond Whole Foods, in what’s almost a daily operation.

“He’s everywhere,” said food bank Executive Director Heidi Dukich.

“Whatever I do, I’ve got to get carried away,” said Kelley. Not just a driver for the food bank, he often drives people who need transportation to doctor’s appointments in his vehicle.

“It gives your life a purpose,” the North Bend resident says of his volunteer work. “And, of course, you meet a lot of people that you wouldn’t have met.”

“Thanks, Dave!” says a North Bend Safeway clerk, as Kelley pulls his cart up to grab filled holiday food bags from a donation barrel. Empty last night, said Kelley, the barrel is full once again by 10 a.m.

“It will take me three trips to get it all this morning,” Kelley said. “I’ll dump that barrel twice today. The customers here at Safeway are the most generous people you’re ever going to find.”

But he doesn’t play favorites. Staff at the North Bend QFC, too, are “damn generous.” QFC, he says, is the only market that donates meat to the pantry.

After each trip, everything has to be weighed back at the food bank, and Kelley fills out a form to show exactly what he’s picked up.

“You never know what you’re going to get,” he said.

Kelley is just one of several volunteer drivers shuttling food to the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank, which itself is just one of half a dozen similar pantries serving hungry people this winter.

Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank

“Every volunteer is important,” said Dukich, who has run Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank since its founding last February. It is thanks, she said, to “these people who are so dependable that we are able to be successful.”

Early this month, Dukich joined dozens of volunteers who unloaded more than 6,000 pounds of food donations from Northwest Harvest, Food Lifeline, and goods collected during a drive by Eastside firefighters. The goods, hauled from a big box truck into the shelves, tables and freezers at 122 E. 3rd St., North Bend, will last for a little while. The food goes in, and it always goes out.

While the Valley community is generous, “we need to rely on outside resources for help,” said Dukich. “If we didn’t have that, we wouldn’t be able to sustain ourselves. Having those relationships is huge.”

So, more than a dozen volunteer drivers like Kelley move around the Valley and the Eastside to collect goods from six stores, including the Ridge IGA, the Issaquah Highlands Safeway and Whole Foods in Redmond. Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank serves an average of 300 families a week. Need always spikes in the winter, when families see more expenses and more bills. People tend to eat more in winter, too, said Dukich.

Demand is being met today, “but we need the community’s help,” Dukich said. “We are always looking for donations, monetary and food.”

The food bank has created a new online catalog program as a way for people to get involved.

The Community in Action catalog allows patrons to sponsor specific donations and amounts, from keeping a household in carrots for a month for $12, to providing an entire pallet of milk for $1,000. Donators can also make gifts on others’ behalf, then print out an online thank-you card to pass on the gift.

Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank provides distribution from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday; However, due to the New Year’s holiday, they hold their distributions on a Tuesday, Dec. 30.

• You can learn more about Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank at www.snoqualmievalleyfoodbank.org.

Mount Si Food Bank

The Mount Si Food Bank in North Bend is serving about 125 families a week. It, too, is seeing an increase, director Marilyn Erlitz told the Record, due to reasons such as job losses, an increase in family sizes, and the holidays.

Mount Si receives food through Northwest Harvest and donations, and distributes food from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays at their 1550 Boalch Avenue location.

In a priority need right now, the food bank seeks diapers in all sizes, especially 5-6. This is a big expense for those who are on limited incomes, Erlitz told the Record. “Children need to have dry undergarments,” she stated. Another big need is hot and cold cereal. All donations, whether large or small, “make more than we had before.

“All gifts are readily received with hearts of gratitude,” added Erlitz.

Mount Si Food Bank is run by the Snoqualmie Valley Ministerial Association. Along with the pantry, it hosts a summer cupboard and back-to-school drives. Contact the food bank at (425) 888-0096 or visit http://mtsifoodbank.org/.

Fall City Food Pantry

Fall City’s Community Food Pantry is a volunteer-run bank that operates out of the United Methodist Church at 4326 337th Place Southeast.

Last month, the Fall City pantry served more than 600 people. Those numbers are typical for most of the year, said volunteer Richard Terbrueggen, with the exception of the month of December, when demand is usually much higher. Last December, the pantry fed nearly 770 people.

Like other Valley food banks, volunteers at Fall City assume that expenses rise around the holidays.

“The food banks help families save money on food purchases which allows them the ability to use the money they save on housing, utilities, transportation,” Terbueggen said,

Much of their food is donated through local schools, Scouts, and other community food drives, plus partnership with Northwest Harvest, a statewide, non-profit food bank distributor.

“We also get great support from Eastside Baby Corner in Issaquah who supplies our families with diapers, formula and other baby needs,” Terbueggen said.

“We live in a very caring community,” he added. Fall City gets money donations that lets the pantry shop for needed, big-demand items such as cereal, canned fruit, jelly, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and laundry detergent. A grant from the city of Snoqualmie provides fresh dairy items and produce.

The Fall City Community Food Pantry is open from noon to 1 p.m. and 6:30 to 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of every month.

Donations can be left at the Farmhouse Market, Creative Business Advantage, or the Hauglie Insurance Professional Building, all located in Fall City; as well as the Ridge IGA Supermarket in Snoqualmie. With advance notice, food items can be delivered to the Fall City United Methodist Church, by calling (425) 222-5458.

Learn more at http://fallcityfoodpantry.org/.

Preston’s food bank

In Preston, the Adra P. Berry Food Bank serves about 50 families. It’s a small pantry, part of the Raging River Community Church, and is sited in a railroad container, underneath the bridge by the church at 31104 SE 86th St. Distribution is 3 to 4 p.m. on Thursdays.

“We get people that live under a bridge or in a car off and on, because other food banks won’t serve them because they don’t have an address,” said “Santa” Gary Weisser, food bank coordinator.

Right now, the food bank is seeing a shortage in food. Demand rises and falls, and goes up in winter, Weisser said.

The Berry bank gets most of its food from Northwest Harvest, also benefiting from public and company drives for donations.

“And we’re at the end of the week, so we get leftovers from other food banks,” Weiser said.

Priority needs, which the church often pays for, include eggs, butter and toilet paper. Weiser said the pantry also buys hamburger and hot dogs for its outdoor barbecue.

“We could always use soup, tuna fish, peanut butter, and jelly,” stated Weiser. “We don’t get into flour, sugar, salt and pepper and stuff like that, because some people come in and don’t have stoves. They can pop open a can of beans and heat that, or canned fruit—we can always use that.”

Donations can be dropped off at the church, and if no one is there, they can be left at the door.

To learn about the food bank, visit http://www.ragingrivercommunitychurch.org/ministries/food-bank.

Carnation Public Food Bank

Carnation Public Food Bank, which opened this summer to replace the former Snoqualmie Tribe Food Bank, averages close to 100 families a week, or 400 people, with numbers doubling during the holidays. “We gave out over 170 turkeys with all the trimmings,” during Thanksgiving, said organizer Fred Vosk.

Numbers fall during the summer, thanks, says Vosk, to more employment, and year-to-year, Vosk sees a positive trend. “But this time of year, it’s a bit harder for folks,” he told the Record.

Most of Carnation Public Food Bank’s donations come from supermarkets such as IGA, Safeway and Albertson’s, and from several local churches.

This food bank requires no identification of any kind, “so we have a steady base of clients that don’t qualify at other food banks,” stated Vosk. “We always need canned goods and non-perishable items.”

Distribution is 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. The food bank is located at 31822 Myrtle Street, one block east of Tolt Avenue.


In Carnation, the Hopelink food bank has served about 165 families every month over the past six months. There has been a slight increase in requests for food services, said food bank coordinator Jennifer Knittle Rose. Numbers are up by about 40 households compared to this time last year.

It’s difficult, Knittle Rose said, to say why use is rising, because there are many factors. Often it’s associated with job loss or illness. Someone can lose a job and go months before deciding that the food bank is the next step in stabilizing the household.

Most of Carnation Hopelink’s food comes from donations from the community. This gets supplemented with produce from Northwest Harvest, donations from Food Life Line, government commodities and food purchased through local distributors of dairy, eggs, produce and nonperishables.

Distribution is held between 11 and 1:30 p.m., by appointment, on the first and third Thursday of each month, and in the evenings from 5 to 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays.

Food donations are constantly sought, with priority for protein and fresh produce. In winter, it’s hard to give people a variety of fresh vegetables, Knittle Rose said.

Learn more about Hopelink’s programs at www.hope-link.org.