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Food bank serves clients at new location

Makenna Steffen, left, and Ashley Kolbeck sort and clean eggs at the Arlington Community Food Bank. - Kirk Boxleitner
Makenna Steffen, left, and Ashley Kolbeck sort and clean eggs at the Arlington Community Food Bank.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — As of Tuesday, April 8, the Arlington Community Food Bank marked a full week of operation and customer service in its new location, which volunteers reported was hectic even without the addition of clients from Oso and Darrington, but the Food Bank continued to receive donations from members of those communities, and has been able to serve all of its clients with a new and improved customer service layout.

“Our new store is a shade under 5,000 square feet, which is about the same size as the place we were renting,” said Jerrie Inman, a member of the Arlington Community Food Bank Board of Directors, of the permanent new facility at 19118 63rd Ave. NE. “It’s still twice or three times what we were used to at Haller Park, though.”

Among the accouterments that Inman touted were a more spacious and aesthetically appealing front lobby check-in area, where clients wait their turn to be guided through the aisles by volunteers, as well as a more efficient and customer-centric approach to shopping itself.

“Before, everyone got the same standard box of supplies, unless we knew they were a really huge family, in which case they got a slightly larger box of the same stuff,” Inman said. “Now, it’s much more like an actual grocery store. You don’t just get handed a box of vegetables. They’re now sorted by varieties like peas, greens and corn, and you can pick which ones you want. As this process goes on, we’ll have a better idea of which types of food are more popular, and we’ll be able to stock our shelves accordingly.”

According to Inman, the Food Bank usually sees a decline in clients following the winter holidays, but their customer traffic almost inevitably starts picking back up by March.

“It’s easier to get here in nicer weather, which I suspect might make a difference to the homeless,” said Inman, who noted that the Food Bank remains relatively centrally located in the Arlington community, in the business park area surrounding the Arlington Municipal Airport. “We have about 80 volunteers, from the storage shelves and admin to the shopping floor, but we could always use more.”

Cindy Reece, treasurer of the Arlington Community Food Bank, explained that the Food Bank’s volunteers see their service to their clients as a form of service to the surrounding community as a whole, and welcomed donations that might not otherwise occur to people, including diapers and toilet paper.

“Kimberly-Clark used to take care of our toilet paper needs,” Reece said. “Pet food for dogs and cats is also needed, as are small containers of dish soaps.”

The Arlington Community Food Bank is open Mondays from 10 a.m. to noon for the disabled and seniors 62 years and older, as well as on Tuesdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to noon again on Thursdays. To learn more, you can still call them on their old phone number at 360-435-1631.

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