PORT ANGELES — Jonas Siegal rolled a shopping cart out of the Port Townsend Food Bank on Wednesday filled with dried pinto beans, potatoes, mushrooms, sparkling water and two packages of Field Roast sausages.
It was the first visit to food bank for Siegel and his daughter Lola, 3, but the vegetarian wasn’t surprised to see the plant-based alternative to meat sausage was available.
“This is Port Townsend, after all,” Siegel said.
It’s not just Port Townsend, but all food relief agencies on the North Olympic Peninsula that work hard to offer a wide selection of high quality foods that appealed to clients of different ages, backgrounds, tastes and dietary needs.
Forks, Port Angeles and Sequim food banks and those under the Jefferson County Food Banks Association umbrella made sure to have on hand what might be called “typical” food bank items: noodles, rice and “government cheese” from the USDA; non-perishable goods like canned soup and vegetables; and surplus food from local grocery stores.
But they also offer organic and locally grown produce, vegetarian and speciality items, as well as fresh dairy, eggs and meat.
Food banks play a critical role, they said, in not just providing food, but also critical nutritional support to individuals, families, seniors and those experiencing homelessness by providing healthy but pricey foods, like fresh produce, that are beyond the budget of their clients.
“What food banks are has changed tremendously,” said Andra Smith, executive director of the Sequim Food Bank.
The Sequim Food Bank has purchasing contracts with farms in Clallam County, as does the Forks Community Food Bank.
“We have food bank farm and gardens; those are gardens operated in the county that provide food to us, and we get gleaning from local farmers,” said Mike Boock, president of the Jefferson County Food Banks Association, which supplies food banks in Brinnon, Port Townsend, Quilcene and Tri-Area in Port Hadlock.
Smith said the quality of the Sequim Food Bank’s offerings had sometimes surprised its volunteers.
“One of them was, like, is that Chai’s [Farm] salad mix?’ and I said, ‘Yes, it is.’”
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at Paula.Hunt@soundpublishing.com