By Jim Davis Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — For more than a year, the Mill Creek Food Bank has been housed at Henry M. Jackson High School, first in the school and currently in a portable on campus.
Now the food bank, run by Volunteers of America, is looking for a new home. The food bank needs to find a new site by August.
“We knew going in it was a temporary location until we could get on our feet and find a permanent location,” said Leann Geiger, VOA’s director of Food Bank Services.
The nonprofit is looking to lease or purchase a location in or near Mill Creek, preferably in the south Mill Creek area. It would need to be a minimum of 1,200 square feet — but ideally around 2,500 to ensure it can handle expected growth. The site also needs to be near bus lines, connected to sewer and water and have about 15 parking spots.
The effort to open a food bank in Mill Creek started in November 2011 when a Jackson High student confided to a school employee that she was often hungry. Terry Cheshire, the school’s principal, said at the time that staff took a hard look at the needs of students. They were shocked to learn that 20 percent of the 1,900 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
The staff rallied to provide Thanksgiving meals for 40 Jackson student families. They again helped when Christmas rolled around.
Last spring, the school partnered with local businesses, the city of Mill Creek and members of Mill Creek Rotary to create a food bank to help people in the community on an ongoing basis.
In November, VOA began operating the Mill Creek Food Bank as one of its four food banks. It offers clients a three-day emergency food supply each week. Many of the clients are families with children and seniors on fixed incomes. Often they are among the “working poor” — people who have jobs but do not earn enough to pay for all of their living expenses.
The Mill Creek Food Bank currently serves 83 families — roughly 238 individuals — each month, Geiger said.
“Sometimes parents will tell us that they skip meals so their kids can eat,” Geiger said. “Or seniors will tell us they have to choose between buying food and paying for their medication. Our goal is to help people bridge the gap so they don’t have to make choices like that.”
Anyone with information about a possible site can contact Barb Athanas at 206-300-4208.