© Rebecca Bowring Courtesy of Rainier Valley Food Bank

Food Banks On The Front Line Of Serving Virus-Vulnerable Neighbors

by Emerald Staff

While many people are stockpiling canned goods, toilet paper and disinfectant wipes, local food banks are having to pivot to ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors are able to get food.

Since the coronavirus reached Seattle, there are reports that some routine food items donated to food banks by grocery stores are constantly sold old. Rainier Valley Food Bank (RVFB) executive director, Gloria Hatcher-Mays says that the longer the emergency and disruption of donations from stores to food banks last. the more the need for shelf stable foods will rise.

Hatcher-Mays says they are also ready to respond to ensure healthy delivery of their food to clients. “Our plan is to shift from in-building distribution of foods to home delivery for our most vulnerable patrons, or drive through or curbside delivery using pre-packaged grocery bags for others. In both cases we reduce ‘proximity’ and reduce the chances of infection should someone be sick or contagious.”

To maintain health and safety, the RVFB has purchased outdoor hand washing sinks to ensure everyone entering the food bank has freshly washed hands. They have also purchased spray bottles, bleach, hand sanitizers, and disposable gloves to constantly clean and sanitize the food bank. These measures are for safety, but also absorb some of the resources intended to buy food for distribution.

So, while many of you are going stir crazy sitting at your computer at home, take a break and help the most food insecure in our communities. Here are some of the things you can donate:

  1. FOOD:  Donations of dry and shelf stable foods appropriate for home delivery.
  2. TIME:  Help pack increasing numbers of food bags for home delivery.
  3. DELIVERY DRIVERS:  Deliver food bags to the homes of the most vulnerable.
  4. DRIVE UP VOLUNTEERS:  Needed to hand off bags of food for those in need who drive up.
  5. MAKE SANDWICHES:  About 200 sandwiches/week are needed for the homeless and those without cooking facilities; check with staff to find out sandwich requirements:
  6. BAGS:  New and/or clean paper or plastic grocery bags; many more bags are needed to reduce contact with produce or foods not usually packaged, and to pack foods for homes delivery.

And, as anyone who has ever dropped off donations or volunteered can attest, the Rainier Valley Food Bank really needs a much larger facility. So, if there’s a building owner out there who can help, Hatcher-Mays would be happy to talk to them.

Of course, cash donations are always welcome. Donations can be made: www.rvfb.org

The Rainier Valley Food Bank is located at: 4205 Rainier Ave South. Food distribution is on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Featured image by Sam Osborne