Gary Sterile pretends a leek is a wand as he makes a Harry Potter reference to Marika Evenson while volunteering at the Volunteers of America Western Washington’s Everett Food Bank on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Gary Sterile pretends a leek is a wand as he makes a Harry Potter reference to Marika Evenson while volunteering at the Volunteers of America Western Washington’s Everett Food Bank on Wednesday in Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

As services expand, food bank needs community assistance

Volunteers of America is doubling efforts in Everett and will turn to the public to make it happen.

EVERETT — With heightened demand for food assistance in Snohomish County, Volunteers of America Western Washington’s Everett Food Bank has doubled its services.

To help those in need within the community, the food bank on the 1200 block of Broadway will now provide food to clients on a weekly basis. Previously, the 3,000 clients in Everett were limited to visiting the food bank twice per month.

“We see this as a big bonus to everybody,” said Kimberly Conant, Volunteers of America Western Washington’s vice president. “We are hoping it will reduce the stress of not knowing where your food will come from next week, now that they know they can come back.”

The increase in services began Monday. The last time the food bank made a similar expansion it saw a 30% rise in customer visits.

“We have no idea what to expect and that’s why we are reaching out to see if the community can help support us with this change and make it as smooth as possible, because the people that need (the services), need it really bad,” Conant said.

To ensure ample food is available and that it can be distributed in a timely manner, Volunteers of America is asking for donations of food, money or time.

As both a client and volunteer at the Everett food bank, Chantelle Asbury, a mother of three, knows how valuable the additional food will be.

“Once a week (services) for me, honestly, totally takes the pressure completely off me,” she said. “I am not worried at all this summer.”

In August, Volunteers of America also will begin offering specific days of service for vulnerable populations, including seniors and people with disabilities as well as families with children.

Even on those days, the food bank will never turn anyone away.

“Everything we are doing is focusing on bringing respect and dignity to our guests,” Conant said.

While a dollar can be made to stretch the furthest, volunteering and food donations are important. A typical volunteer shift at the food bank might include working the food distribution lines, sorting food or general cleaning, but the goal, according to Conant, is “to experience the joy of serving others.”

As Asbury knows from her own experience that food security makes a difference. She says it is the responsibility of the entire community to rally around those in need.

“You should never be able to walk by someone that’s hungry and feel OK about it,” Asbury said. “I know people make bad choices and stuff, but people deserve to eat.”

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3449; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com. Twitter: IanDavisLeonard.

How to help

Interested volunteers can apply at www.voaww.org/volunteer and donations are accepted on-site or online at www.voaww.org/donate.

Information on Volunteers of America services is available online at www.voaww.org/gethelp, or by calling 2-1-1.

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