Area food banks prepare for Thanksgiving
Doug Ramsay photo
Volunteer Kristi Wilson loads a box of food into a client’s SUV at the Sky Valley Food Bank in Monroe on Wednesday,
Nov. 4. The load-in style is how most food banks now serve food bank clients while avoiding contact because of COVID-19.
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Food banks will most likely serve a larger number of families in a year riddled with challenges. Not only are more families in need, but because of COVID-19 food banks across the county have had to change their ways of distributing food.
With Thanksgiving turkeys being supplied to food banks by the USDA, food banks can still use donated hams and other items including hygiene products, pet food, volunteers and money.
The Snohomish Community Food Bank, 1330 Ferguson Park Road, expects to serve around 250 families for Thanksgiving. Snohomish was serving between 180-200 families before COVID but expects the number to be higher during the holidays. There will only be one day to pick from the Thanksgiving menu, so it is important to set an appointment before the deadline. Clients can set appointments online at www.snohomishfoodbank.org until Nov. 20 in order to reserve a time for a food pick-up on Tuesday, Nov. 24 from noon until 6 p.m. The food bank expects to fill between 35 and 40 orders per hour.
Because of COVID-19, the normal “grocery store” model to pick food is not available. Since March, Snohomish’s food bank has been handing clients an order form upon arrival, which they fill out in their car, then give to a volunteer who runs it inside for the order to be filled. Once the order has been completed the groceries will be delivered back to the car.
The process will be just like it has been since March but the menu will be different according to director Elizabeth Grant.
“It includes the turkey and the cranberry and the pumpkin pie and all that good stuff,” Grant said.
The Snohomish food bank requests that donations consist of cash or check because they plan to buy the food. Money can be donated online, mailed or dropped off. Grant said the food bank is no longer accepting food from people’s home pantries because of COVID-19 concerns, although it will take baby wipes and other hygiene products bought from the store.
“It’s just one way that I can move in the direction that I’m keeping volunteers safe and I’m keeping clients safe,” she said.
The Sky Valley Food Bank, 133 Sky River Parkway in Monroe, has also stepped away from their grocery store style. Instead, it has been doing a drive-thru model and will continue that throughout the holidays.
“Families can choose between a chicken box or a turkey box,” Sky Valley Food Bank director Cindy Chessie said. “Our turkey box has stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry, vegetable yams, and our chicken box has pinto beans, rice, cheese, cilantro, lime, tomatoes and tortillas.”
Sky Valley’s distribution day for Thanksgiving boxes is Monday, Nov. 23, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments can be made for food pick-up online at www.svfoodbank.org
Donations to the Sky Valley Food Bank can be made during donation hours, Monday through Thursday, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Once there, call 360-794-7959 for service. Large quantities can also be delivered to the warehouse but a time and date must be arranged. Monetary donations are also accepted.
“It’s been a tough year for families and it would be great if we could at least help them all through the holidays,” Chessie said. “They don’t need to worry about the holidays on top of it.”
Although it is preferred that people use the food bank closest to them, Chessie will not turn anyone away, regardless of residence. Because of an increase in activity and an expected boost during the holidays, donations are needed.
Donations of food, money or other products can be dropped off weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., monetary donations through the website are encouraged.
The Volunteers of America Food Bank, 1230 Broadway in Everett, has already begun handing out Thanksgiving items this week starting with turkeys. Much like the others, the Everett Food Bank will be handing out pre-packaged boxes of food, although an appointment is not needed. Everett residents can pick up boxes of food Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m.
“(Monetary) donations give us flexibility because we never really know, from one week to the next, what we’re going to be short on,” VOA food banks director Chris Hatch said. She added diapers and hygiene products are encouraged as well. Donations information can be found online at www.voaww.org/donatenow.
The Maltby Food Bank, 21104 86th Ave SE, Snohomish, began handing out turkeys to clients last week and is delivering food walk-up style as well. At the Maltby Food Bank, clients have the same specific time and date every week to receive their food, but according to director Natalie Oswald, new clients can be scheduled by emailing the food bank at email@example.com with a name, home address, phone number, and size of family.
New information is posted regularly at the Maltby Food Bank’s Facebook page as well, including what donations are needed most at that time. Monetary donations are also encouraged and can be delivered to the Food Bank or done online at www.maltbyfoodbank.org/donate-and-volunteer.
“The community has been amazing,” she said. “We put that stuff on the Facebook page, and then we get it.”
Along with food and money, the Maltby Food Bank is in need of volunteers, to sign up as a volunteer information can be found at maltbyfoodbank.org Oswald said with the added pressure from COVID-19, and an increase in families they are not sure if they can keep up this pace without more volunteers.
Wearing a mask and social distancing are required.
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