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Arlington Food Bank prepares for holidays

 

Christopher Andersson

Arlington Food Bank volunteer Kathleen Evans helps keep the shelves stocked as clients move through the food bank on Nov. 4.

The Arlington Food Bank is getting ready for their Thanksgiving and Christmas meal giveaways this year and is gathering food for the holidays.

Many different organizations run food drives for the local nonprofit organization including many of the schools in Arlington, which often collect outside of local grocery stores.

Angel of the Winds and the Stillaguamish Tribe are currently running their food drive, according to Jerrie Inman, a board member with the Arlington Food Bank.

Northwest Hardwoods also runs an annual food drive with cooperation from the Arlington and Smokey Point Safeway locations, which will begin soon and run through most of December, said Inman.

In addition to drives many local stores, including Walmart, Safeway, Grocery Outlet and Costco "all support us with their donations," said Inman.

The food bank serves about 1,200 people in the area, according to Inman.

"We take care of a lot of people, and Thanksgiving is a big giveaway and Christmas is a big giveaway. There are a lot of families that come through," said food bank volunteer Paul Evans.

Inman said that recent trends show more individuals coming into the food bank instead of larger families.

"More of them are homeless, but they live in a motor home, or they have campers, they're not living under the bridge," she said.

The food bank is also seeing more single men raising families than in years past.

"We always think of a traditional household with a single mother with her child, but we're seeing more men," she said.

Finally, elderly customers with insufficient social security and little retirement to draw from are becoming more common.

"A lot of these folks, their social security is less than $1,200 a month," said Inman.

Last year the food bank served about 300 meals during Thanksgiving and expects to serve about that many this year again.

Those meals include a choice of turkey or chicken and many other holiday foods like corn, broth, jelly, mushroom soups and more.

"Pretty much everything you need to make a traditional dinner," said Inman.

Inman said there are many items that are good donations for the food bank including things like box milk which has a long shelf-life.

"A lot of stuff that has pop tops is good, like the whole soups. They make it really nice to put in a homeless bag. It might be cold, but it's the complete meal," said Inman.

"Quick and easy" food like mashed potatoes are also good for the clientele.

"A lot of our clients and others may have the same problem, it is that they're younger and many of them haven't really learned to cook," said Inman.

The Food Bank often has to change their menu on days when seniors don't shop to more of those easily prepared foods, said Inman.

Inman added that the food bank is always looking for volunteers and needs food even during the months without holidays.

Food bank volunteer Kathleen Evans said it's a good way to give back. "It makes you feel wonderful. It's uplifting and you help people. It's very purposeful," she said.

More information about the Arlington Food Bank is available at arlingtonwafoodbank.org.

 

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