August 8, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 16

Garden produce welcome at Cheney Food Bank

The Cheney Food Bank and the Cheney Clothing Exchange are located in two adjacent units of the Wren Pierson Building at the corner of Third Street and C Street.

Cheney Food Bank director John Matthews (front row right) poses with Eastern Washington University football head coach Beau Baldwin (middle), EWU Food Drive coordinator Nadine Arévalo (left) and members of the Eagle football team who helped unload food during the university’s 2011 summer food drive.

Retired Col. John Matthews (U.S. Air Force) oversees the operation of the food bank that currently serves about 400 families and receives approximately 1,200 visits per year, distributing about 100,000 pounds of food.Volunteers put in 2000 hours of service to the food bank annually.

Matthews has been involved in community service since he began participating in what was then known as “Cheney Community Service” in 1958. Back then, the organization consisted of three branches: the food bank, the clothing exchange, and the police chaplaincy. The entire organization served about 10 customers each year.

Cheney gardeners can make an important contribution to the food bank in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables in season. So if your zucchini are getting out of control, you have too many beans, etc., you can always give them a good home with Matthews.

Donations can be dropped off at the food bank between 8 and 9 a.m. every Wednesday of the month, except for the fifth Wednesday. You can even get free seeds from Second Harvest to plant a row (or more) to help feed the less fortunate.

Roughly two-thirds of the food bank’s items come from the Cheney community.Stores, such as the Cheney Trading Company, Starbucks, Safeway and Mitchell’s Harvest Foods, are major contributors.

The food bank also accepts cash donations that enable Matthews to make wholesale purchases at the Second Harvest wholesale store in Spokane in order to maintain a proper balance of goods. He delivers any Cheney surpluses to Second Harvest to ensure they do not go to waste.

Items supplied by the food bank, in addition to food, include such items as toilet paper, laundry and bar soap, toothbrushes and paste, and shampoo. United Church of Christ recently donated 100 “birthday bags” containing an assortment of gifts and goodies for children.

The Eastern Washington University Food Drive also helps to support the food bank. Even the Cheney Recycling Center gets into the act by providing around 10,000 paper bags per year. These would otherwise cost about eight cents each. Matthews obtains some funds under the Federal Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program.

John Taves, a frequent produce provider to the Cheney Food Bank, is a member of Gardeners of Cheney, Friends of Manito and is currently serving as a member of the Cheney City Council.

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