Part of today’s work included a meeting with Captain Terry of the Salvation Army. I got a tour of the Renton Rotary Food Bank and Social Service Office. Also a full description of the services they provide. They turn the offices (including the directors) into a mini Dr. office every Saturday. They have been providing free tax services to the community all through tax season 3 days/evenings a week. They have a mobile dental van two Saturdays a month. They provide social services there in the offices, including help with utilities, rental and transportation. Four nights a week they provide a hot dinner to anyone homeless, helpless or hungry. Then of course the food bank…..
I toured the entire facility. The big walk in refrigerated room for produce, maybe 2% of what it could hold actually had produce in it. The big walk in refrigerated section for dairy. There was no milk, no cheese, no yogurt in the room. There were two milk crates of butter, that’s it. Then the big freezer section for meats and veggies that was at about 15% capacity.
There were rows of sorted can goods. Separated by type of food, soup, crackers, cereal etc. Quite a sorting and pulling system so the oldest stuff (closest to expiration) goes first. There was some dog food, some diapers, some baby food (maybe two milk crates full.) Then the small packages, they pull out items for partnering with the backpack program. If you haven’t heard of the backpack program, it’s a partnership to send backpacks home with school children who may not have any other food on the weekends. It’s usually ready to eat or easily prepared foods as they are often left to their own devices. Also at the very end of the rows were the “homeless” bags.” Prepared in paper grocery bags, they include single serving foods, foods that don’t need preparation or that can be eaten out of the can cold, bottled water and they will add in single serving toiletries when they get them in. They used to make 30 bags a week, now they try to make 75 and still run out.
My goal this summer is to get donations each week from the vendors, hopefully at both markets to get more local, healthy and fresh produce into the community.
I always put out a bag at for the mail carriers “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. I did find out that just this one food bank will get upwards of fifty thousand pounds of food. Today’s tour made me rethink the “single” serving things that I may not have donated in the past. What I realize is nothing is too small. So you bought some single serving items that you may have opened and decided you didn’t like. Perhaps granola bars, or shelf stable pudding cups that you’re not going to finish. There is a program at the food bank it will fit into, like the back pack program, or a bag for the homeless.