After one year in new digs, ML food bank still goes strong
Community organization consistently serves more than 200 families per month at Washington Street location
For the past year, the food bank has enjoyed its spacious new location at 207 S. Washington St. It’s reaped the benefits of having a very accessible location in Medical Lake, next to the library and post office.
“The new facility is half again what we had before. We streamlined the operation so we’re able to move people through here more quicker,” Food Bank director Peg James said.
Before moving into the new building, the food bank’s system for serving clients was far less efficient than it is today. In addition, the past year has presented a more inviting climate for clients.
That inviting climate and changing how customers move through the building has made an incredible difference over the past year. Previously, the food bank needed to share space with the Care and Share thrift store. No longer in the same location, both entities have made the most with their own facilities and are doing well.
“It’s much more inviting and client-friendly,” James said.
The food bank consistently serves more than 200 families each month, a figure which grew along with the move to the new facility.
One benefit to the food bank’s move has been an increase in customer service.
“We’ve actually learned to work a little bit differently and to come up with different processes that are a little more efficient,” she said.
The volunteer turnout has also seen an increase since moving a few blocks, no doubt helped by the increased square footage of the building.
“I’ve seen our volunteer staff double in the past year,” James said. “I never turn a volunteer away, I’ll always find something for them to do.”
While the number of clients served by the food bank has remained somewhat steady, the organization hasn’t been short on most of its supplies.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” James said. “Second Harvest has come through for us. They have. We’ve been getting lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.”
While the food bank’s fresh food supplies are doing well, the regular difficulty seems to be their stock of dried goods.
“We still have a difficult time getting dried food, the packaged Hamburger Helper, Top Ramen, that kind of thing,” she said. “If anybody wants to know, ‘What do you need?’ It’s items like that and toiletries.”
There weren’t really any set goals last year other than to not let any hiccups involved in the move interfere with the food bank’s regular business. On that front, James said they were successful.
“The volunteers here lived that up to the max,” she said. “We never missed a day. That goal was achieved. We never let anything interfere with the service we were providing to the clients.”
One goal for the food bank in its second year, James said, is to try and add another freezer or refrigerator. Other ongoing smaller maintenance items will come up throughout the year.
Coming up at the food bank Wednesday, July 17 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. is the annual Mobile Food Bank, sponsored by Second Harvest. There, Second Harvest brings out their big truck with a wide array of fresh food items for rural communities.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.