GRANITE FALLS — A man dozed in the front seat of a green sedan, a group gathered under a canopy on the sidewalk and a mother held up a blanket to shade her baby from the sun, pausing to tug little white socks back up over his pudgy feet.
More than 20 people waited outside the white metal-sided trailer for the Granite Falls Food Bank to open Wednesday morning. It was the final food distribution day at the site that has housed the service for 40 years.
The double-wide at the corner of S. Granite Avenue and E. Union Street is to be torn down next month. It sits on property slated for the new Granite Falls Civic Center, which will include City Hall.
The plan is to build a permanent home for the food bank near the Granite Falls Boys & Girls Club. It would be part of a new social services center that would bring together the food bank, family support center, Granite Falls Community Coalition and other resources. The goal is to have a place where someone’s needs can be met in one stop. A new gymnasium for the Boys & Girls Club would double as an emergency shelter in case of a disaster.
Until enough money is raised for the new building, the food bank will relocate to the Father’s House Church at 402 S. Granite Ave. The church also distributes food to those in need. Organizers plan to combine the two food banks at the services center.
The city has purchased the property, and the state allocated money for the project, including $375,000 in the capital budget. Another $350,000 would need to be raised to move forward with construction, according to a news release.
Denise Walstad is a professional caregiver and comes to the food bank for a client, a woman on a limited income, she said Wednesday. Walstad also had to rely on the food bank for a while in the past.
“I kind of labeled myself,” she said. “But they’re so friendly, and anybody could be in a position where you might need it for a while. You never know where life will take you.”
She thinks a new and improved building is needed. It will help serve more people, she said.
The existing food bank was set up in 1978 by volunteers with support from a Boeing Employees Community Fund grant. The city has changed since then.
“Granite Falls is growing,” food bank director Stephanie Sherry said. “We have more than 400 houses coming in. We’re not going to be this little backwater forever.”
The food bank serves about 400 people each month, though it varies. In the summer, for example, numbers go down because people find seasonal work, Sherry said.
She estimates that about a third of the people she sees each week are one-time or infrequent visitors. She looks forward to having the food bank on the same campus as other services.
“We have fiercely independent people who need help sometimes but do their best to get out of that situation, if we can just give them the resources,” she said.
Distribution times for the food bank are the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., and the first and third Fridays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Before the final distribution at the trailer, volunteers bowed their heads and said a prayer of thanks. Then they opened the doors and invited those in need to come on up. In small groups or one at a time, people walked up a ramp that was creaky and patched in places.
Carey Deeter waited his turn, separate from the rest of crowd. Buster, a mutt with soft, shaggy fur and mismatched eyes, was on a leash next to him.
Deeter is grateful for the food bank.
“If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t probably get nothing,” he said.
He’s lived in Granite Falls most of his life. He spent some time homeless, he said. He’s gotten help when he needed it, and he thinks the new services center will be a good thing. However, he’s frustrated that the food bank must relocate before a new building is ready. He thinks the city should wait to start on its civic center until the food bank has a permanent home.
He remembers when the white trailer was a new addition to the downtown street corner, and the food bank just opened.
“This has been here a long time,” he said. “Helped a lot of people.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; email@example.com.
How to help the Granite Falls Food Bank
To learn more or donate, go to granitefallscommunitycoalition.org.