In the back room at the Blaine Food Bank, volunteers bustle about filling boxes with canned goods, boxed food and supplement it with what meat and produce they have on hand. As soon as one box is given away, another takes its place.
By 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning, just an hour after they had opened, the food bank had already served close to 100 families. Director Jerry Bladeis said that number was likely to increase three-fold by the end of the week.
“We have 350 to 400 families that we’ve been feeding each week,” he said. “That’s 20 percent more than what we saw last
year and it’s only going to get worse because of the food stamp situation. Since the government has cut back on food stamps, the number of families we’ll see coming here for help is going to increase.”
The Blaine Food Bank serves families from Blaine, Birch Bay and Custer, and provides supplemental nutrition for families. “All we require for people to use our service is their name and a proof of residence, such as a utility bill,” he said.
While the food bank is doing what it can to support the growing number of families in need by utilizing services like Lifeline and Northwest Harvest as well as government funding, Bladeis said it’s just not enough – they’re currently giving away 78,000 pounds of food a month and need much more. “We’ve been really lucky because people in town have been donating food, but it comes in one door and goes right out the other,” he said. “We need help.”
An anonymous donor has offered to lend a helping hand to the overtaxed charity, but on the condition that the community joins him in his benevolence.
If the Blaine Food Bank can raise $25,000 by December 20, the donor will match the funds dollar for dollar, which would be an enormous hand up for the overwhelmed community program. “It’s fantastic when people bring us food,” Bladeis said, “but we can do so much more with cash. We can buy food by the case lot and pay pennies compared to what you pay in the store and get so much more.”
Right now, the food bank has raised $9,000 of that $25,000 goal, and while it’s a good start, there’s still a long way to go to meet their deadline. “We really hope people will contribute,” Bladeis said.
As it stands, the food bank will not be providing Thanksgiving meals to its patrons (it’s saving its resources for Christmas), but is encouraging them to look elsewhere to celebrate the holiday. “If you weren’t able to get a Community Assistance Program (CAP) Thanksgiving Basket, there are other options, like the dinner hosted by the American Legion at the Blaine Senior Center,” Bladeis said. “We’re trying what we have for Christmas, when the community doesn’t have as many options.”
Blaine Food Bank, located at 500 C Street, is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon, and Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m., and offers supplemental assistance to families in need.
If you would like to help the food bank meet its $25,000 fundraising goal, send a check to the Blaine Food Bank at P.O. Box 472, Blaine, WA 98231.
Donations should be made no later than December 20 in order for them to count toward the matching grant.
A community Thanksgiving feast will be hosted by the American Legion Post 86 at the Blaine Senior Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. For more information, call David Van Duisen at 360/739-1671.