News

Giving the hungry their daily bread

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

Food Lifeline’s recent reminder that hunger is an every-day-of-the-year issue in western Washington was like preaching to the choir for the staff and volunteers at Multi-Service Center’s food bank.

Three days and one night a week, they see needy adults and children –– on average, more than 1,000 families a week and 158 per day –– filing through the food line at the agency that helps fight hunger in and around Federal Way. The workers know that those aren’t the only days when the clients need more to eat.

Xxxxx xxxxxx, the food bank’s supervisor, says it’s hard sometimes to get the hungry people out of her mind when she goes home at the end of another day of helping put food on their tables. Their plights help put her own concerns in perspective –– and should do the same for other people, she noted.

Food Lifeline, the western Washington affiliate of America’s Second Harvest

national food bank network, is spearheading a regional campaign to raise 3.65 million meals by next June. The significance in that number is that “hunger is a problem 365 days a year” for far too many people, said the organization’s chief executive officer, Linda Nageotte.

With Washington burdened by the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate and on shaky economic ground, demand for food is rising. Nageotte noted that food donations to Food Lifeline have increased 5 percent in the past year, but 15 percent more individuals are requesting assistance.

Communities, individuals and businesses are being asked to increase their support of Food Lifeline and food banks, or to start helping out if they aren’t already. More information is available from Food Lifeline at www.foodlifeline.org and (206) 545-FOOD.

Last year, Food Lifeline channeled more than 18 million pounds of food through more than 250 local food banks, meal programs and shelters.

The hunger numbers in 2001 were big at Multi-Service Center’s food bank, too. More than 1.1 million pounds of food was distributed –– almost 92,000 pounds per month. In addition to the 1,042 families (or 4,100 individuals) who knocked on the food bank’s door, about 8,000 people came back more than once a month (11.5 percent more than the year before).

For some clients, the cupboards run bare near the end of pay periods and months. The household food budgets get stretched even more in some families during summer months when children are eating more meals at home instead of at school in subsidized meal programs, XXXXXXX said.

People living within the Federal Way Public Schools service area can get food at the Multi-Service Center food bank from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and on one Thursday night per month. The food –– donated and purchased –– comes from federal-controlled commodities, wholesalers of fresh produce, grocery stores, bakeries, restaurants and the food drives of organizations.

Non-food items, such as infants’ diapers, also are distributed.

Occupying a building next to the food bank is a clothing bank, also operated by Multi-Service Center. Clothes for virtually all ages and sizes are available. So are “career clothes” that enable job-hunters to dress more presentably for job interviews, said Nancy Hohenstein, the center’s community relations director.

Household items also are available for the asking. “We always need more pots and pans,” said Shirley Grinnell, who’s volunteered at the clothing bank for 25 years. Sleeping bags for the homeless also are in demand.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and editor@fedwaymirror.com

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