Mayor's Month of Concern for the Hungry: Annual effort stocks Federal Way food bank

Andy Foxx, with Waste Management, picks up bags of food left curbside during 2009
Andy Foxx, with Waste Management, picks up bags of food left curbside during 2009's Mayor's Month of Concern for the Hungry. This year, Waste Management will pick up bags labeled 'food drive' on regular garbage collection days the week of Sept. 20-24.
— image credit: Courtesy image

With the economy still lagging and unemployment rates exceeding comfort levels, the city is calling upon generous residents to donate during the Mayor's Month of Concern for the Hungry.

The Month of Concern, throughout September, will bring in food and cash donations to help feed Federal Way's needy.

There are several ways to participate in the month-long event, which started from the city's Mayor's Day of Concern for the Hungry, which expanded into a much larger collection effort in 2008. The food and money donated goes to the Multi-Service Center's food bank, 1200 S. 336th St. The Month of Concern continues to include the Mayor's Day of Concern for the Hungry.

Mayor Linda Kochmar hopes this year's donations outdo last year's 30,000 pounds of food and $952. This collection fed approximately 187 households for roughly one month, said Multi-Service Center spokeswoman Tricia Schug.

"Many of our citizens lost their jobs this past year and are in need of additional help at this time," Kochmar said. "Let's work together to support each other as part of our community family and make this city a place we are proud to call home."

Increasing need

The food bank continues to see increases in attendance. Individuals over age 55 appear to be making the most visits to the food bank, Schug said. Last year, customers said their primary reason for visiting the food bank was temporary job loss. This year, they list ongoing job loss as the reason they need help feeding themselves and their families, Schug said.

The number of visitors to the food bank have jumped since last year. In the first six months of 2010, the food bank received 12,977 visits by people in need, Schug said. Of those, 2,786 visits were from new households, she said. In 2009, there were 12,331 visits in the first six months and 2,890 were made by new households.

Food is needed to carry the food bank and its customers until the holiday season, when people tend to donate more, Schug said.

"We're low in the warehouse this time of year," she said. "Even though we're low, people keep coming."

Food collection

Residents with garbage service can help feed local folks in need by setting out food curbside. They may leave bags non-perishables marked "food drive" on the curbside on their regularly scheduled garbage collection day the week of Sept. 20-24. Waste Management will retrieve the bags and drop them off at the food bank. This will be the third year the garbage collector has participated in Federal Way's month of concern event. Last year, Waste Management picked up 22,000 pounds of food left curbside.

"We are already involved in the community every day," said Rita Smith, Waste Management Pacific Northwest community education director. "We are out there. We have a connection with the customers and we believe this is a way we can do our part."

Another massive collection effort will take place across the city on Sept. 25. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the 18th annual Mayor's Day of Concern for the Hungry will be held. Volunteers at the Twin Lakes Fred Meyer, Safeway, Top Foods and two Wal-Marts will distribute a list of valuable food items to the grocery stores' customers as they enter the establishments. Customers may choose to donate items from the list on their way out.

On this same date, visitors to the Federal Way Farmers Market can contribute to the Mayor's Month of Concern for the Hungry by dropping food in designated barrels during the market's Chili Cook-off between the fire district and police department. The cook-off runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 25 in the Sears parking lot, 1928 S. Commons.

Cash donations

The City of Federal Way has once again set aside $10,000, referred to as the Challenge Grant, toward the Month of Concern. The city urges businesses and organizations to match that amount. Waste Management has already given $500. Cash donations will be accepted until Sept. 25.

Individuals may also donate money. This can be done through the Multi-Service Center or on the Mayor's Day of Concern at participating grocery stores. Donations will be accepted until Sept. 25.

Drop-off locations

Mayor's Day of Concern for the Hungry drop-off locations

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 25:

• Twin Lakes Fred Meyer, 33702 21st Ave. S.W.

• Safeway, 1207 S. 320th St.

• Top Foods, 31515 20th Ave. S.

• Wal-Mart, 1900 S. 314th St.

• Wal-Mart Supercenter, 34520 16th Ave. S.

Anytime during September:

• Multi-Service Center Federal Way Food Bank, 1200 S. 336th St.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 25:

• Federal Way Farmers Market Chili Cook-off, 1928 S. Commons

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