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Letter carriers collect for food bank

Arlington Community Food Bank volunteer Kortney Todd weighs 124 pounds of donated food during the May 10 Letter Carriers’ Food Drive. - Kirk Boxleitner
Arlington Community Food Bank volunteer Kortney Todd weighs 124 pounds of donated food during the May 10 Letter Carriers’ Food Drive.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — The Arlington Community Food Bank collected 8,859.5 pounds of food during its first Letter Carriers’ Food Drive at its new location, but even as volunteers thanked the community for its generosity, they noted that more is always needed.

The food bank opened its doors at 19118 63rd. Ave. NE in Arlington at the start of April, and during that month alone, it collected 30,280 pounds of food donations, which food bank volunteer Amy Butchart pointed out is up from their previous year’s monthly average of 23,000 pounds.

“We started the year with more food thanks to the Northwest Harvest Safeway Food Drive,” said Butchart, who added that it brought in more than 12,000 pounds of food. “But our biggest need is funding. Donations from the community are what keep our doors open.”

As a 100 percent volunteer-run organization, Butchart explained that all donated funds cover either food purchases or the operating costs of the food bank.

“Having just moved into this building a month ago, we have lots of things still on our wish list, including landscaping, a new sign for the outside of the building, ceiling fans for the warehouse and a new van to pick up food,” Butchart said.

Jerrie Inman, a member of the food bank Board of Directors, credited donations from local businesses with helping the food bank to add industrial shelving to its warehouse and sidewalks around the building, while donated labor and a grant from Volunteers of America helped them complete the facility’s kitchen and second bathroom. Food bank volunteers also finished paving the front, sides, back parking lot and side street, while Bank of America donated its conference room table, chairs and other office equipment.

“Smokey Point Sand & Gravel let us use their scales to weigh our truck, which saved us an enormous amount of time,” Inman said. “Leah Robinson, Steve Glaze, Frank Stanavich, Ann Blair and lots other volunteers did a great job. The food we receive during the holiday season just barely gets us to this food drive, and the food we’ve received from this drive will hopefully help get us through to the holidays.”

Volunteer labor is another big need. The food bank utilized 1,292 hours of labor from 66 volunteers in April, but Butchart asked for more hands on Mondays and Fridays, from noon to 1 p.m., and on Tuesdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

“We also need help sorting food, and those hours vary,” Butchart said. “With school out for summer, and more people taking vacations, we will need additional volunteers.”

Butchart elaborated on the variety of ways that volunteers and donors can support the food bank.

“Whether it’s picking up food as a driver, sorting food in the warehouse, or organizing food or fundraising drives, we’d love the help,” Butchart said.

Food donors should look out for jelly and small jars of peanut butter, toilet paper, small bags of sugar and flour — no more than 5 pounds each, and preferably less — canned fruit, Depends for adults, and both large and small plastic zip bags, that volunteers can use to distribute pet food.

The need for food is especially pressing as the end of the school year approaches.

“We’re hoping that all the students who participate in our ‘Meals ‘Til Monday’ program, and those receiving free or reduced meals from schools, will encourage their families to come to the weekly food distributions at the food bank, if they aren’t already,” Butchart said, adding that the recipients of “Meals ‘Til Monday” will not be served by that program during summer vacation.

Those interested in volunteering can stop by the food bank during its operating hours, or visit its website at www.arlingtonwafoodbank.org.

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