PORT HADLOCK — Although they worked before the sun rose, volunteers for the Jefferson County Food Banks Association were excited as they helped unload 533 hams off a semi-truck and into the refrigeration unit at the Tri-Area Food Bank.
The hams were purchased at a discount from Harbor Foodservice, using funds donated to the food banks from the October WAVE fundraiser, the Jefferson County Community Foundation and from individual Jefferson County residents.
“This is really important to us right now, just trying to take care of people, especially in light of COVID-19,” said Eloise Langenbach, Brinnon Food Bank manager.
The individually boxed hams were delivered Thursday morning, and they will be distributed to the four food banks in East Jefferson County.
Two hundred will be delivered to the Port Townsend Food Bank; 160 will stay at the Tri-Area Food Bank and 80 each will go to Brinnon and Quilcene food banks, said Mike Langenbach, former association president.
The hams will be given out to food bank clients — one per family.
The association expects to receive more during the weeks leading up to Christmas through donations, Langenbach said.
“We’ll have enough hams for just about everyone,” he said. “It’ll be a good Christmas disbursement.”
Harbor Foodservice, based in Kent, is a family-owned company that ships food to several restaurants in East Jefferson County such as the Chimacum Cafe.
It was connected to the food banks by Langenbach’s son, John, a warehouse worker for the company, said Dereck Schmidt, Harbor Foodservice sales consultant.
The sale was discounted for volume, the first time for the company on this side of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Schmidt said.
“We were able to find a solution for them,” Schmidt said. “A lot of restaurants are hurting right now, and some of their employees are probably in line for food banks right now.”
The hams cost $10,200 and weighed in at a total 5,200 pounds. The association ordered 532 hams; an extra ham just happened to be delivered, Schmidt said.
It took six people — Schmidt, truck driver Elijah Grenot, and four food bank volunteers — about 40 minutes to unload the three pallets of festively boxed hams.
The food banks across the county saw a rise in use between March and May, and the need has remained at those levels since.
That has the all-volunteer-run organization working hard. Its team of about 320 volunteers countywide have adapted to the drive-through-only model, as well, said President Mike Boock.
“You can’t have this organization without the volunteers,” he said. “Volunteers are very tired at the end of the day, but they have a big smile.”
Boock has been appreciative of all the donations that food banks have received during recent months.
Some residents donated their full $1,200 stimulus checks, he said.
Food and time has been given by local organizations and residents, he added.
“The thing that is just heartening is the outpouring of support,” Boock said. “The residents of this county have been incredibly giving.”
The Jefferson County food banks serve an average of 5,500 people per month, or some 1,600-1,700 weekly between the four locations, Boock said.
The Port Townsend Food Bank is located at 1925 Blaine St.; the Tri-Area Food Bank is located at 760 Chimacum Road; the Quilcene Food Bank is located at 294952 U.S. Highway 101; the Brinnon Food Bank is located at 151 Corey St.
Donations are accepted at all four locations or can be mailed to P.O. Box 124, Port Hadlock.
More information on the Jefferson County Food Bank Association can be found at jeffersoncountyfoodbanks.org.
Jefferson County Reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at [email protected].