Jefferson County’s cramped food banks seek new home

PORT TOWNSEND — Every Wednesday morning, Port Townsend Food Bank manager Helen Kullmann arrives at the community center basement before 7 a.m.

Although a volunteer, she will work steadily for the next nine hours, setting up tables, directing deliveries, coordinating volunteers and helping distribute food to the hundreds of people who use the food bank every week.

That’s assuming she doesn’t find a crisis when she arrives.

“The refrigerator’s been unplugged twice,” Kullmann said.

“The last time, we lost some food.”

That’s just one of the reasons members of the Jefferson County Food Bank Association are looking for a new home for both the Port Townsend and the Tri-Area food banks.

One possible scenario — to consolidate warehouse and distribution centers into one space they can call their own.

“We have outgrown space at both locations,” said Nora Young, a board member.

“Our vision is to combine both food banks. It would streamline operations and leave more money for recipients.”

Community center spaces

Both food banks now operate out of community center basements, space provided virtually free by the county, board member Philip Flynn said.

But neither provides an optimum facility for the people it serves.

At the Tri-Area Community Center in Chimacum, the only access to the food bank is down a flight of stairs, with no shelter from rain or cold for people waiting in line in the stairwell.

The arrangement is also hard on the volunteers, who, like Kullmann, are senior citizens.

“Many of the people we serve need assistance in ways other than food,” Flynn said.

“We have to help them get up and down the stairs.”

In Port Townsend, food bank clients can wait inside, and the space is larger than in Chimacum.

But for Kullmann, it’s a weekly struggle to set everything up and then put it away in the limited storage space.

Food deliveries arrive five times on Wednesdays, she said, with two large truckloads twice a month.

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