Peninsula food banks work to fill constant need

Peninsula food banks work to fill constant need

PORT ANGELES — Food banks across the North Olympic Peninsula are gearing up for the holiday season, with Thanksgiving just one day away.

For the Port Angeles Food Bank — which sees about 900 families and 1,800 to 2,000 individuals each month — the need is consistent throughout the year, said Jessica Hernandez, executive director of the food bank.

“Hunger doesn’t know month-to-month,” she said.

Among the biggest needs at the Port Angeles Food Bank are fresh or frozen proteins, she said.

The avian influenza epidemic two years ago helped create a shortage for the food bank. During the past few years, Northwest Harvest had been able to provide “a good amount” of chicken during the holidays but is unable to this year, she said.

“There wasn’t enough chicken to do something like that, so we lost that this year, that very vital contribution of meat,” she said.

She said it’s been challenging recently and that the food bank has needed to look outside its usual sources for funding and to secure donations.

The next greatest need is canned goods.

“Half of our shelving is empty,” she said. “We’re in a pretty serious crunch right now.”

Hernandez said the food bank accepts monetary donations as well and stretches those dollars as much as possible.

In Port Angeles, 37 percent of the food bank’s clients are younger than 18 and 46 percent are older than 55.

“The majority are in that very vulnerable population,” Hernandez said.

She expressed her gratitude for the food bank’s partnerships with stores such as Safeway and Walmart, as well as service organizations such as the Lions Club.

“The community is responding to the increased need, certainly, during the holiday time,” she said. “I would be remiss if I didn’t mention we certainly have a tremendous amount of support from the community.”

For more information about the Port Angeles Food Bank, call 360-452-8568.

Forks food bank

Likewise, the need also continues to grow at the Forks Community Food Bank, said Pat Soderlind, its executive director.

Typically, the food bank can expect to hand out about 225 Thanksgiving meal baskets but this year is expecting to serve more than 300 families.

As of Monday, 279 people had already signed up to receive a Thanksgiving meal basket Tuesday, she said, but the food bank expects to hand out up to 325.

“When we’re done, people who haven’t signed up, we’ll make sure that they get something,” she said. “Nobody is going away without something.”

Overall, the number of people served in Forks is continuing to grow, Soderlind said.

“They are finding it hard to meet their needs,” she said. “I think it’s a sign the jobs just aren’t here and the wages just aren’t here.

“It’s a very telling sign that people are struggling.”

Among the top needs at the Forks food bank are nonperishable items.

The basic-needs food bank is unable to store a lot of fresh foods or perishables.

The most needed donations include canned soups, peanut butter, beans, rice and tuna, Soderlind said.

The Forks food bank is run 100 percent by volunteers, she said.

“It’s definitely a passion,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s a passion.

“Everyone has a right to not be hungry and have a roof over their head.”

For more information about the Forks Community Food Bank, call Soderlind at 360-640-8211.

Sequim Food Bank

Stephen Rosales, board president of the Sequim Food Bank, said the group gave out all 900 turkeys they purchased along with meal items such as potatoes and cranberry sauce Friday, Saturday and Monday at the facility, 144 W. Alder St.

This week, the food bank is providing multiple meals to facilities such as the Sequim Veterans of Foreign Wars post and Trinity United Methodist Church.

It is working with the Olympic Peninsula Healthy Community Coalition to offer the inaugural Sequim community Thanksgiving dinner from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula at 400 W. Fir St.

To attend, RSVP to 360-461-6038. Free rides also are available.

Within the Sequim School District boundaries, those who need a meal can contact the Sequim Food Bank at 360-683-1205 or 360-461-6038.

Rosales said the food bank provides similar offerings for Christmas from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 16-17 and Dec. 19.

Jefferson County

Four food banks in Jefferson County are working together to make sure no one goes hungry.

Among them is the Port Townsend Food Bank, which recently received 400 turkeys to distribute today.

Shirley Moss, Port Townsend Food Bank manager, said the food bank is in pretty good shape.

“We’re doing great,” she said. “I stockpile things for this day.”

The food bank serves about 300 families per week, usually with higher numbers toward the end of the month, she said.

“Our numbers are down a little bit,” she said.

The four food banks in Jefferson County — which are in Port Townsend, Brinnon, Quilcene and the Tri-Area — all work together under the umbrella of the Jefferson County Food Bank Association.

They share funding and donations.

Among the biggest needs, Moss said, are peanut butter and eggs. She said especially during this time of year, local businesses step up to make sure they are stocked up on food.

For more information about the Port Townsend Food Bank, call Moss at 360-531-0275.


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at

Port Angeles Food Bank volunteer Steven Fay of Port Angeles sorts through incoming produce Tuesday in the food bank’s warehouse. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles Food Bank volunteer Steven Fay of Port Angeles sorts through incoming produce Tuesday in the food bank’s warehouse. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

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