North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Food bank looks to expand services

 


In response to results from a recent survey, the Marysville Community Food Bank hopes to partner with a community organization for van shuttle service for less mobile clients, explore opening an “express” line for families, and increase the number of times per month that community members in need can access the food bank.

In addition, Food Bank Board Members at a recent annual retreat said they intend to work to reduce the stigma associated with coming to the facility, while spreading the word more creatively about food bank services and resources to families with children.

Children comprise the largest portion of the population that they serve, said Dell Deierling, Food Bank Director.

“In late 2014 we set three major goals for the food bank to help us reach our new vision of ‘a hunger-free community’,” said Deierling. “The survey results have provided us with valuable information that we need to proceed with tackling these goals.

“The Board and I deeply appreciate the efforts of Doug Buell for developing and administering this survey that will help us better serve the community,” he said. Buell is a community member and former longtime public information officer with the city.

The food bank conducted the community survey earlier this year to help identify silent pockets of un-served or underserved community members and families in the Marysville, Tulalip and Lakewood areas who could access the food bank, but do not.

Deierling reminded that the food bank and its community partners play a critical role in supporting struggling families in the region, and there was concern that there may be residents unaware of food bank services and resources available to them, or that a food bank even exists.

The food bank received 309 completed online and hard copy surveys by the deadline date. Among the survey’s key findings:

• While a third of survey respondents said they have had an adequate food supply over the past year, 29% said that their household has been food insecure five or more times during the same period, lacking access to enough food to support active, healthy lives.

• 54% of respondents said they know a friend, relative or neighbor living in the Marysville-Tulalip-Lakewood area who has experienced food insecurity.

• 47% “Strongly Agree: that if they were in need during a critical time, they would feel comfortable access the food bank and its services.

• In a question about barriers that would prevent them from accessing the food bank, 3 out of 4 people answered that it was the “stigma attached to asking for assistance,” with 15% citing transportation and mobility issues and 9% concerned with long lines.

• 92% of respondents said that if someone they knew were experiencing food insecurity, they would tell them about the food bank as an option.

Respondents were invited to share barriers and challenges they associate with accessing the food bank, and present ideas and insights for better reaching community members in need, Deierling said. The answers yielded helpful information during board member and staff discussions on topics ranging from transportation and ride sharing to access the food bank, to doing more to educate residents and promote the food bank and its role and value to the communities it serves.

Based on survey findings and day-to-day trends that staff and volunteers observe during current operations, the food bank Board recommended the following actions:

• Partner with a community organization that has a van in order to provide shuttle service to take people home who do not otherwise have a ride home from the food bank with their groceries.

• Explore the feasibility of offering an “express” line for families that do not have the time to wait in line for their groceries.

• Work to reduce the stigma associated with coming to the food bank. We certainly want people to feel comfortable about coming here. The food bank was put here by the people to serve the people. In a strong community, people help others when they are in a position to do so, and accept help when they need it.

• Work harder to let our services be known to families with children. Children make up the largest portion of the population that we serve.

The Board also recommended increasing the number of times that families can visit the food bank for a full service of groceries from two to three times per month. It could pose a challenge.

“This will be our biggest change that requires much more support from the community in order to keep up with the demand for food,” said Deierling “This is also the most helpful change for our local families. We have received feedback from a number of people regarding the positive impact this will have on the health of their family members.”

To view the full complete survey results, visit the food bank website at http://www.marysvillefoodbank.org.

 

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