Local food banks rising to meet need

Community support has been critical to feeding hungry.

As the demand for food from local food banks has increased, fortunately so has the level of generosity from the community, which has allowed food banks to keep pace with the growing needs in Bremerton and Silverdale areas.

Bremerton Foodline Executive Director Monica Bernhard reported a 16 percent increase in the number of clients so far this year compared to last year, but added that September 2008 saw a whopping 30 percent jump in demand over September 2007.

The Central Kitsap Food Bank experienced an even larger increase as the number of clients increased by 20 to 30 percent from last year over the past six months, according to Kathy Ungren of the CK Food Bank.

“We’ve definitely seen an uptick in our clients’ needs and we’re seeing more and more families who have both (parents who have) lost their jobs,” Bernhard said, adding that the food bank is now seeing professionally dressed clients stopping in on their lunch breaks for food.

Last year, the Foodline distributed 16,878 food boxes to 3,872 families. Bernhard said she expects the demand for the organization’s services to remain steady through the rest of the year.

“I don’t see it getting better at all,” she said.

In Silverdale, Ungren said the shelves aren’t bare yet, because of the food drives that took place in November and December combined with the growing number of ongoing food drives that are helping the food bank keep up with the increased demand.

Bernhard said the reason food banks haven’t had to put out any major calls for help is because the community has been so generous in its support of the food bank even during these tough economic times.

“The community has been phenomenal and we hope it’s going to continue,” she said.

With spring break just around the corner, both Bernhard and Ungren said their respective food banks are ready for the extra demand as children who eat breakfast and lunch at school will be at home for the week.

However, Bernhard encouraged donors to bring jars of peanut butter to the food bank because peanuts in that form are unaffected by the nationwide recall.

Items like hearty soups, which include Healthy Choice, Chunky and similar brands, are always in need as well as box dinners like Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper, even if the meat product is not included, she said.

Baby food also is a definite need at the food bank, Bernhard said.

At the CK Food Bank, dairy products and other perishable items as well as hygiene items are the most needed donations, Ungren said.

Donations to the Bremerton Foodline can be mailed to P.O. Box 824, Bremerton, WA 98337 or by calling (360) 479-6188.

Donations to the CK Food Bank can be mailed to P.O. Box 748, Silverdale, WA 98383 or by calling (360) 692-9818.

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