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Mayor's Month of Concern: Fighting hunger in Federal Way

For the second consecutive year, Federal Way's mayor and city council are asking residents to participate in a month-long effort to drive hunger from the community.

Throughout September, residents are encouraged to drop off food, as part of the Mayor's Month of Concern, at local food banks. The 17th annual Mayor's Day of Concern for the Hungry will be held Sept. 26. Volunteers will collect non-perishable and canned food items at several local grocery stores on this day. Shoppers will be given a list of most-needed and desired items.

Mayor's Day of Concern

The mayor's day is an Emergency Feeding Program (EFP) of Seattle and King County project. The program provides goods through six Federal Way area distribution centers. It offers those in need a variety of pre-prepared, nutritional meals. The program supplies bags of food, some specifically designed for populations such as diabetics, infants and the homeless. Each person receives six full meals per bag.

In 2008, the program fed 68,414 people in King County by providing approximately 282,821 nutritional meals, according to the program's Web site, www.emergencyfeeding.org. About 40 percent of the population EFP feeds are children and infants. The Mayor's Day of Concern brought in about 70 tons of food throughout King County last year, EFP executive director Arthur Lee said. Demand has significantly increased across the county since that time, he said.

"Most certainly we have seen an increase," Lee said. "We're at about 55 percent above service levels last year."

EFP hopes to collect at least 100 tons of food this time around. That should last through mid-November, Lee said.

Mayor's Month of Concern

The well-established day of concern prompted Federal Way Mayor Jack Dovey and his fellow council members to turn September into a month of concern for the hungry. The effort was successful during its first run last year.

A few food banks exist in Federal Way, but the most prominent is the Federal Way Food Bank, operated by the Multi-Service Center, 1200 S. 336th St. In 2008, the food bank experienced a significant increase in the number of people it served.

This year, the center continues to see more people in need of food. From July 2008 through July 2009, the food bank has seen an additional 2,100 people per month, said Terri Turner, food and clothing bank supervisor. Activities really picked up in October, she said.

"The numbers we have now on a daily basis are the numbers we are used to having during the holiday season," Turner said.

The bank is supplying food to an additional 500 households since this time last year, she said. The households are growing larger as well. People are moving in with friends and relatives, and some residences are growing to near 11 inhabitants, Turner said.

Donations remain steady and the food bank is able to consistently provide food to all those in need, she said. Super Wal-Mart and Trader Joe's are two establishments that help sustain the food bank, Turner said. Trader Joe's even donates flowers at times.

"We're able to give people at least as much food as before, if not more," Turner said. "The stores have been really generous."

So has the community. When Federal Way residents hear their food banks need help, they step up and offer assistance, she said. Turner did not have this same experience at her prior job at a food bank in Seattle, she said.

"The community feels some real ownership," Turner said. "I feel like people are concerned about us."

Check it out

To learn more or sign up to volunteer for the event, visit www.emergencyfeeding.org. Following is a list of Federal Way stores that are scheduled or expected to participate in the Mayor's Day of Concern:

• Metropolitan Market, 1618 S.W. Dash Point Road

• Albertson's, 31009 Pacific Highway S.

• Safeway, 1207 S. 320th St.

• Top Food and Drug, 31515 20th Ave. S.

• Fred Meyer, 33702 21st Ave. S.W.

• Wal-Mart, 1900 S. 314th St.

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

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