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Second Harvest food bank supplies are low

Mobile Market at West Central Community Center has regular volunteers and a group from Mukogawa.  Photos courtesy of Second Harvest


In a normal month, Second Harvest Inland Northwest distributes between 2.6 and 3 million pounds of food to more than 200 partners in 21 counties of Eastern Washington and five counties of North Idaho, according to Eric Williams, community partnerships director of Second Harvest of the Inland Northwest.

"In January, we will be lucky if we can distribute between 1.8 and 1.9 million pounds, so we had to notify 80 of our partners that we wouldn't be able to distribute food to them until we can get more supplies," he said.

This disruption results from a combination of factors—high inflation, lower crop production and a decrease in donations all at the same time.

"High inflation, particularly of food prices, means that people need us more," Eric said, "but at the same time with the decrease in food and the increase in gas prices, we simply can't afford to spend the $1,000 or so it takes to put gas in our two semi-trucks for delivery when they are only a third or a fourth full."

The good news at this time for Second Harvest is that they are still able to continue food distribution for those partners who come each month to pick up their own food and continue the Mobile Market and Bite2Go programs as usual.

In the Mobile Market program, a refrigerated truck transports 8,000 to 10,000 pounds of food to community centers, church parking lots, businesses, and other locations. Volunteers can deliver food to as many as 300 families and usually operate in rural areas where there is less access to fresh produce and other perishable foods.

A second part of the program allows Second Harvest to deliver food directly to people facing hunger with a converted public bus transformed into a walk-through market. The bus can visit sites that larger food delivery trucks can't access and allows Second Harvest to increase the number and frequency of its food access points. The bus also targets specific populations like families with children or seniors in retirement communities. Up to 75 families receive food at each distribution.

Second Harvest's Bite2Go weekend backpack program, in partnership with At The Core, provides nearly 6,000 elementary, middle and high school students easy-to-open, single-serving, nutritious, nonperishable food for meals and snacks during the school year.

Eric praised the generosity of the many people who make the program possible: farmers, grocery store managers and volunteers.  At the same time, he acknowledged that they need more help and volunteers.

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Copyright@ The Fig Tree, January 2023