Port Angeles Food Bank director leaves; new director to come on board in July

Emily Dexter

Emily Dexter

PORT ANGELES — After more than four years of growth and steady leadership, the Port Angeles Food Bank has a new director, board members said.

Emily Dexter, administrative manager at the Composite Recycling Technology Center in Port Angeles, has been selected to replace outgoing food bank Executive Director Jessica Hernandez, they said.

Hernandez has accepted a position at the state Department of Agriculture, where she will oversee emergency food programs for Western Washington.

Her last day at the food bank, a nonprofit based at 402 S. Valley St., was Friday.

Jessica Hernandez

Jessica Hernandez

“Our organization is strong and we thank Jessica for all she’s done to fight hunger on the Olympic Peninsula,” said Chris Donohue, Port Angeles Food Bank board president, in a news release.

Dexter has been the administrative manager at the nonprofit CRTC since 2016. She will begin working at the food bank July 2.

“I wholeheartedly believe in the PAFB’s simple yet powerful mission of ‘Nourishing Our Community,’ ” Dexter said.

“While we won’t always know why a family is in need, the why is less important than the fact that all people deserve access to wholesome, nourishing, healthy and safe food.”

Donohue said Dexter brings a passion for the community.

He added that he expects her to “not only maintain current successful programs but to then build on them with new and innovative ways of providing nourishment for those who might otherwise go hungry.”

Hernandez became executive director of the food bank in February 2014.

Since that time, the food bank has become the hub for hunger relief efforts in Clallam County, officials said.

“Our small staff and team of dedicated volunteers focuses on nutrition, not just filling bellies,” Hernandez said.

“We’ve worked to make food more accessible to the most vulnerable through partnerships that break barriers to access for senior citizens, those with health issues, and food insecure students, while continuing the normal distribution activities we’re known for.”

In a recent Facebook post, Hernandez said her time at the food bank was “some of the most fulfilling, challenging, thrilling and difficult work of my professional career.”

“The partnerships we’ve forged, collaborations begun, and friendships have been some of the most exciting parts,” Hernandez said.

“While I’ll miss those I work with every day to fight hunger here on the Olympic Peninsula, I’m honored and humbled to be utilizing what I’ve learned to work at the state level with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, focusing on their emergency food programs that support food banks and meal programs in our state.”

In addition to her work at the food bank, Hernandez has served as president of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce and Port Angeles Rotary.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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