The Medical Lake Food Bank is facing a dry goods shortage, which has lasted for the past several weeks.
While the organization is doing well with other products, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, the amount of shelf-stable items has been decreasing on a weekly basis. Items like macaroni and cheese dinners, Hamburger Helper, Top Ramen and others typically seen on the shelves are gone.
It’s also been three months since the food bank ordered cereal.
Food bank director Peg James said the situation is troubling, given that the food bank’s main funding vehicle, the Care and Share thrift store, is currently closed for renovations.
“Right now, this is probably the most critical I’ve ever seen it,” she said.
Items purchased at the thrift store go directly to the food bank to help fill out additional items needed during Friday’s weekly distribution. James goes out and purchases the items using the food bank’s funds, which as of late, haven’t been as high as they typically are.
“The Care and Share money is what allows us to go and purchase the foods we need,” James said.
James is grateful for the community’s donations, and is constantly thrilled to see local fruits supplied by local residents. But, while many are still experiencing the national economic downturn in the area, it’s difficult to ask for the additional help, with many cutting back their own food budgets.
“It’s tough to ask them that every time they go to the store, would you buy an extra mac and cheese and drop it by,” she said. “And you think if 25 people did that. We wouldn’t have any empty shelves.”
Under the food bank’s current distribution system, families of one to three receive one dry good item. Families with four or more receive two items.
In September, the food bank saw 2,586 pounds of donated food, an average amount James said. However, it distributed 24,800 pounds of food to residents. While September saw a regular amount of help, donations as a whole are down as the need continues to grow.
Over the past three years, the number of residents served by the food bank have nearly doubled and now average well over 200 each month. The food bank receives most of its supplies from Spokane’s Second Harvest Food Bank. The bulk of those donations, however, encompasses fresh produce, milk and some frozen food items.
“Without Second Harvest, we wouldn’t even be here,” James said. “Donations from our fellow citizens are just the icing on the cake.”
The Medical Lake Food Bank is located at 207 S. Washington St. in Medical Lake, and can be reached by phone at 299-3819.
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.