How hundreds of Sequim residents receive their Thanksgiving meal from the Sequim Food Bank will be changing.
Leaders of the facility shifted the traditional three-day holiday meal distribution to one day — Friday, Nov. 20 — at Carrie Blake Community Park, 202 N. Blake Ave.
Families/individuals can drive through the Albert Haller Playfields in the north portion of the park from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. to receive a free meal.
Andra Smith, food bank executive director, said COVID-19 precautions led to the change.
“With the understanding that this is a crazy time, we want to honor the food bank’s traditions while doing it safely,” she said.
Fifty-plus volunteers from various community churches and groups will be assisting with the distribution. Masks are required, and available if needed.
In previous years, organizers said, the program each year distributed about 800 Thanksgiving meals over three days, and as many as 1,500 meals between Thanksgiving and Christmas programs.
This year, organizers are unsure how many people may come through, Smith said.
“We’re feeding more people than ever,” she said of recent programming.
In October, the food bank, along with other community partners, shifted the COVID Relief Food Care Package program from weekly to every-other-week at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave.
Pick-ups continue 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 11 and 25, and Dec. 9 and 23.
Smith said they were serving an average of 500 families a week and saw 560 families receive food on Oct. 28, their highest total so far since the program kicked off in June.
“It’s exponentially gone up since June,” she said.
The food bank continues its regular service days too at 1-4 p.m. Mondays, and 9 a.m.-noon Fridays and Saturdays.
“(The Wednesday program) is so needed,” Smith said. “People are accessing our program than normally wouldn’t come to the food bank.”
This year, food bank officials estimate COVID-19 related demands have put them about $200,000 above their 2020 budget of about $1.1 million.
Smith said a lot of that is covered from different federal, state and local sources to help with new costs for food, increasing storage capacity and new equipment.
“The pre-COVID average was about 70,000 pounds of food distributed per month, and now we average about 175,000 pounds a month,” she said.
“We couldn’t do that with one box truck and one old pallet jack.”
In October, the food bank added a new cargo van after their truck broke down temporarily. Smith said with regional food shipments going first to the Port Angeles Food Bank, Sequim staff are making up to seven trips a week there for pickups.
With a broken down truck, they were losing two or three days of pickups that was needed for the food bank, she said.
Funding is set for the remainder of 2020, Smith said, but food bank leaders continue to explore options for next year as uncertainty looms.
Smith said the best way to support the food bank as need grows is to donate financially; the food bank is unable to accept food donations at this point, she said. Residents can donate at www.sequimfoodbank.org or contact 360-683-1205 or email@example.com.
The Thanksgiving Family Holiday Meal Bag program is traditionally supported in part by community-backed events with funds from foundations, banks, grocers and local events.
“The community has traditionally been great to us,” Smith said.