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Arlington Community Food Bank executive director Carla Gastineau, left, and board president Mike Simpson, right, are presented with a $300,000 donation by Stillaguamish Tribe vice-chair Eric White, center left, and treasurer Tara Smith on May 7.

 

The Stillaguamish Tribe provided the Arlington and Stanwood food banks with $300,000 each with recent donations to support them during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tribe presented the donations to officials from the two food banks on May 7.

"As we grow, we like to support our communities and the Arlington and Snohomish areas," said Shawn Yanity, chairman of the Stillaguamish Tribe.

"The donation today comes from our donation pot. It's something allocated just for that," he said.

The Tribe wanted to do something to support the community in a time of need, he said.

"We talked about what would be a good donation to do that would really lift up our community," said Yanity.

Local food bank officials were surprised with the amount when the checks were handed out.

"We're completely overwhelmed with gratitude. I don't know what I was expecting, but I was thinking $500 would be great, $1,000 would be great, maybe $5,000 is why they asked us here," said Carla Gastineau, executive director of the Arlington Community Food Bank.

"That's usually a big deal for us if we get $4,000 or $5,000," said Mike Simpson, president of the Arlington Community Food Bank board of directors.

The $300,000 would represent a significant portion of the food bank's annual budget during an ordinary year, however this is not a normal year for the food bank.

"With COVID-19 and all the need increases we almost don't know where the bottom of it will be," said Simpson. "So this allows us to aggressively go after food orders and supplies without the fear of running out of money."

The food bank expanded their Meals 'til Monday program to provide meals for children during weekends. That program has seen significantly increased usage.

"The budget for that program just for April was a little over $50,000," said Gastineau. "That's just the kids program and not the 82 percent increase of families that we're feeding."

Gastineau said she is thankful for the leeway the donation brings the food bank now.

"It makes me breathe a little bit with a sigh of relief," she said.

Yanity said the Tribe is happy to help at a time when many people have lost their income.

"The food banks have always struggled to meet the needs of the community and the demands of our citizens, meaning that those that are low-income are struggling, especially now that the economy has taken a hit," he said.

Simpson said the funds will go right back into the community.

"Every penny of this is going to be put back into the community and every future penny will be put back into the community," he said.

The food bank recently completely their nonprofit organization renewal with the Washington state Secretary of State.

"That showed 99 percent of our donations go back into the food bank with only about 1 percent going into administrative costs," she said.

Arlington food bank officials wanted to thank the Tribe for their contribution.

"Thank you to the community and the Stillaguamish Tribe. They've been an amazing partner, both here and elsewhere like with the splash pad," said Simpson.

"And they weren't asked for this. I think that's really important to point out," said Gastineau.

 

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