Stephen Rosales, Sequim Food Bank board member, helps Larry Grant, a maintenance worker and driver for Suncrest Village Retirement Community, load up the van for residents of the retirement community on May 1. Food Bank officials say they’ve been distributing food in different ways including deliveries and a drive-thru system in the past month. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Stephen Rosales, Sequim Food Bank board member, helps Larry Grant, a maintenance worker and driver for Suncrest Village Retirement Community, load up the van for residents of the retirement community on May 1. Food Bank officials say they’ve been distributing food in different ways including deliveries and a drive-thru system in the past month. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Food Bank expands distribution options

Families eligible for meal bags on weekends

Volunteers and staff at the Sequim Food Bank are finding different ways to get food to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since switching to a drive-thru system to minimize the possible spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, food bank executive director Andra Smith said visitations have been sporadic — possibly due to stimulus funds and other support mechanisms becoming available.

“Our drive-thru numbers may not be as high, but we sent nine deliveries to (Suncrest Village Retirement Community) today (May 1) and we are helping out with other programs like the new soup kitchen,” Smith said.

“We’re seeing a shift right now in how it’s being distributed.”

Another effort to get more food to people includes adding family meals to the food bank’s Weekend Meal Bag program. In the past, bags were distributed to students in school for individual meals through the weekend. Since the pandemic began, Sequim School District officials have made the meals available at drop points on Fridays as part of its weekday breakfast/lunch program. Food Bank officials also made the meal bags available at three Sequim apartment complexes and the Boys & Girls Club.

Now, they’re offering a Family Meal Bag program on Fridays where families can call the food bank at 360-683-1205 for a bag of nonperishable items through the Sequim School District’s drop-off program.

Smith said their meal bag totals went up to about 150 distributed each week in the past month.

These bags are separate from the food bank’s Monday deliveries where locals can phone in throughout the week for a bag delivery. Residents must call in before 9 a.m. each Monday, however.

Donations

During the pandemic, Smith said their biggest need at the food bank remains finances because they’re not accepting food donations right now for the safety of volunteers, staff and visitors.

Local grocers have also been inundated, so the food bank hasn’t received as much donations as in the past. This led Smith to purchase more food and work with other food banks and agencies to order many items in bulk.

Despite some limitations, she reiterates to people frequently that “we have food.”

“I’ve heard from people who might need it, that we need to save food for people who really need it,” Smith said. “But my job is to find food and make sure we have enough.”

At the food bank’s drive-thru, people can receive milk, eggs, meat, butter, dry goods like cereal and pasta, fruits and vegetables, peanut butter and more.

Volunteers ask what type of items a visitor wants and they’ll place them in the trunk or backseat.

“People like it,” Smith said. “One woman said ‘It’s kind of like Christmas when I get home opening my trunk.’”

Stigma

Smith said she understands that coming in or calling for help is hard, especially if someone hasn’t done it before.

“We’re all doing stuff we haven’t done before,” she said. “I can’t see my daughter and I haven’t been able to hug my mom since March 12.”

She encourages people to use the food bank and use those funds for other necessities like insurance, gas, and/or your home.

“We have enough food here for everyone,” Smith said. “We will always have enough food here.”

The Sequim Food Bank, 144 W. Alder St., opens 9 a.m.-noon Fridays and Saturdays, and 1-4 p.m. Mondays.

For more information, visit www.sequimfoodbank.com or call 360-683-1205.

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