SEQUIM — Thanksgiving meal distribution, usually done over a three-day period in Sequim, had dozens of community volunteers provide food to about 900 families in about three hours on one day.
“It’s absolutely a community effort and a great example of everyone coming together,” said Andra Smith, Sequim Food Bank’s executive director, on Friday.
Organizers of the annual Family Holiday Meal Bag distribution program shifted to Carrie Blake Community Park to better accommodate COVID-19 regulations such as proper social distancing.
Smith said they’ve provided about 800 families with Thanksgiving meals in past years, but an increase was expected.
Families waited in vehicles up to 90 minutes for food, with lines stretching from the Albert Haller Playfields in the northern part of the park to the Blake Avenue/Washington Street intersection.
“To have this many people come through in four hours, it’s eye-opening of the need,” Smith said.
Each family received a gift card voucher towards a turkey or ham at Walmart, pumpkin pie, cans of dry goods, stuffing, 5 pounds of potatoes, a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, produce and more.
“We did not run out of food; we anticipated 1,000 but had enough for 1,100 just in case,” Smith said.
Volunteers delivered 20 holiday meals to Sequim homes, too.
Community volunteers and groups that helped with distribution included City of Sequim, Carlsborg VFW Post 6787; Food Bank volunteers; Rotary Club of Sequim; Sequim Community Church; Sequim Sunrise Rotary; Sequim Seventh-day Adventist Church; Sequim Valley Lions Club and Trinity United Methodist Church.
The Port Angeles Food Bank had made Thanksgiving turkeys, hams and side dishes available to clients in the days and weeks before Thanksgiving, said Emily Dexter, executive director. The next food distribution will be from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today.
The demand for the holiday meal program showed nonprofit food providers like Smith that “the need is there,” Smith said.
“It’s going to get worse as we move into the next tier (of the coronavirus),” Smith said.
“We talked about it from the beginning (of the pandemic) and this is happening. This is showing us how it could be on a permanent basis.”
Demand for food resources has remained strong at the COVID Relief Food Care Package program at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave.
The Veterans Day served 523 families, organizers said. The next pickup will be today from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by others on Dec. 9 and Dec. 23.
“What we see on Wednesdays is that (the pandemic has) affected people all across the community,” Smith said. “We’re seeing larger families in need now that under normal circumstances we would not have seen.”
Sequim Food Bank, 144 W. Alder St., will be closed the day after Thanksgiving but will resume regular hours on Saturday. Its regular hours are 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays, and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays and Saturdays.
A similar program as Thanksgiving is being considered for Christmas with a time and location to be determined.
The food bank continues not to accept food donations at this point because of COVID-19 regulations, but residents can donate financially for food at sequimfoodbank.org or contact food bank staff 360-683-1205 or [email protected].
For more information about the Port Angeles Food Bank, see portangelesfoodbank.org.