Food banks serve hundreds for Thanksgiving
SNOHOMISH COUNTY - Cuts to the federal food stamp program have created an increased need for Thanksgiving service this year at the Snohomish Food Bank.
Executive director Elizabeth Grant helped facilitate 12-hour days at the food bank last week to help families in need. The group of mostly unpaid employees and volunteers were busy filling the 400 registered families’ orders the week before when they started running out of turkeys.
“We didn’t realize how much we’d be out of everything until Friday,” Grant said.
She then posted the predicament to the food bank’s Facebook page, and the community came through with donations including 50 turkeys, all from local individuals.
“One fellow brought in 20 20-pound turkeys,” Grant said.
The Snohomish Food Bank is anticipating serving 525 Thanksgiving dinners this year, Grant said last week. Last year the food bank served 425 dinners.
Grant said the food bank is feeling the impact of the federal cut to food stamps. The federal program experienced a 15 percent cut this year and resulted in a benefit cut for every food stamp recipient.
“It’s become a crisis at our level because it’s a community-driven food bank,” Grant said. “As everyone loses their benefits, we’re the ones that have to step up.”
The Sky Valley Food Bank in Monroe is also feeling the impact of the federal cuts, executive director Neil Watkins said, though the Thanksgiving service is expected to be around the same number as in recent years.
“It’s every bit as busy as the last three years,” Watkins said.
Sky Valley doesn’t require pre-registration, so Watkins doesn’t know how many families will be served Thanksgiving dinner, but he said that “it’s not any less busy, I can tell you that.”
“They don’t sign up ahead of time, they come through and we have the turkey, the chicken, or the ham, and they put their own basket together,” Watkins said.
Clients are directed to different stations inside the food bank where they pick out all the fixings for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner,
Sky Valley had about 50 volunteers working to distribute Thanksgiving dinner.
Grocery stores are the main sources of donations for the holiday dinners, Watkins said.
They had plenty of turkey or ham dinners for Thanksgiving, and Watkins expected that the supply would last through Christmas as well.
The only thing Sky Valley was really short on was produce, which Watkins said was fairly typical for this time of year. Stores only carry just the right amount that they need and not much extra, he said.
“We’re so grateful to the community for all the support, it’s amazing,” Watkins said. “This community just comes together and we’re so supported and we’re so grateful for that.”
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