Larger home will increase Everett food bank’s reach

EVERETT — One of the city’s longtime food banks is ready for a change that will mean serving more families throughout the county.

Volunteers of America, which runs the Hands of Hope Food Bank, is moving the food bank to a larger space. They’re relocating to the Bible Baptist Church at 805 W. Casino Road from 9021 Evergreen Way. Organizers expect to open in early September.

The food bank has served about 55 families each week for the last few years. Volunteers of America expect to serve at least 75 families per week after the move, with room to expand in the future.

The large space, ample parking and proximity to an Everett Transit bus stop mean more people can get to and around the food bank, said Jill Whitehead, food bank supervisor for Volunteers of America in Western Washington.

“We’re excited about the move because several of the churches have said there’s quite a need there,” she said.

The food bank is set to be open from 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Volunteers of America has been working on plans to expand the reach of its Everett food banks since late June. The organization operates a second Everett food bank at 1230 Broadway St. and has food banks in Mill Creek and Sultan.

The new Everett location has enough room for an indoor waiting area and a designated space for children, Whitehead said. The previous location was too crowded.

However, volunteers will have to haul food to and from the church on Tuesdays because they cannot store it there all week.

That means the food bank needs more volunteers. Whitehead is looking for drivers and warehouse managers as well as people to handle customer service.

About a dozen people have volunteered at the food bank in the past, and they’d like to rally at least 13 more for the new location.

Sylvia Hendrickson, 79, started volunteering at the food bank nearly a decade ago, when it was operated by a local church. She continued helping at the food bank after the Volunteers of America took over to keep it from closing.

“I’ve really enjoyed it. We’re kind of like a family,” Hendrickson said. “I’ve met a lot of wonderful friends and it’s nice to know things are available for people who need help.”

Sara Behman, another volunteer, moved to the U.S. from Egypt about nine years ago. The 28-year-old said she had never seen a food bank in Egypt. She loves volunteering at one because she can give back to the community and help direct people to other resources for housing, clothing or health care, she said. Behman occasionally translates for people who speak Arabic.

She wants people to know that volunteers at the food bank won’t judge them.

“We welcome them and we just want to help,” Behman said.

When a family of seven came in to pick out a birthday cake, she also helped them select eggs, yogurt, juice and meat. She and other volunteers agree that fresh foods are what the food bank needs most in terms of donations. Baby food, diapers and wipes are other common requests.

There is also a constant need for volunteers.

Vlad Aleksandruk, 19, started volunteering at the food bank this summer. “It’s really easy. All you need is a serving heart.”

Learn more

To learn more about donating or volunteering for Volunteers of America and the South Everett Mobile Food Bank, call 425-259-3191 or visit www.voaww.org/Get-Involved

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439, kbray@heraldnet.com.

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