Port Angeles Food Bank sets listening sessions

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Food Bank has scheduled two days of community listening sessions, with the first set for Saturday.

“After serving the county for over 40 years, the Port Angeles Food Bank is reaching a crossroads and would love to hear voices from our community,” according to a food bank news release.

“We’d like to hear from our local residents on what services and education are needed to continue to minimize the fears of food insecurity in Clallam County.”

The community forums will be from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

They will be:

• Saturday — Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St.

• Saturday, June 23 — Vern Burton Community Center, 308 E. Fourth St.

The release mentions the possibility of a relocation of the food bank now at 402 S. Valley St.

“We want to talk to the community and see if we can do better and if that means capacity building,” said Jessica Hernandez, food back executive director, on Thursday.

“We do not have plans at this time to move.”

After the listening sessions, the board will discuss the feedback and use it to inform the next steps, Hernandez said.

Chris Donohue, board president and First Federal executive, said the sessions are “our way of hearing from our community, and educating the community on what the food bank does, and what more we can do to help make Port Angeles free of hunger.”

Each two-and-a-half-hour session will offer educational resources and photographs of current operations, and examples of how food banks in similarly sized communities have addressed structural challenges, the release said.

The listening sessions will be facilitated by Robert Schroeter, board member and local attorney.

Water, coffee and light snacks will be available.

Seating for the event is limited, so reserve a place by contacting the food bank at pafoodbank@olypen.com.

“We need you to join us and share your ideas and stories,” the news release said.

“Your voice and opinions will help us make real changes in our community and to build a Food Bank in Port Angeles that is equipped to meet the needs we envision for the future – including locating a new home for our Food Bank.”

Hernandez — who works with the community daily through outreach and direct services at the food bank — said the sessions are being held at a critical time.

“Right now, although we reach so many, there is so much more that we can do to help out here at home to address hunger,” Hernandez said.

“From service organizations to volunteers at the food bank to the generosity of our donors – the Port Angeles Food Bank is strong because of their commitment. … Now is the time that Port Angeles can make itself heard as a community on how we want our food bank to look and feel more welcoming and to better serve those in need.”

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