Maltby Food Bank celebrates its 25th year

“A very caring community” keeps it open — and its shelves full.

MALTBY — The food bank in Maltby was established by a group of four women responding to a call to serve, but it’s been a community affair to keep it running for the past 25 years.

Volunteers pitched in to renovate the original building that held the Make a Blessing Food Bank, which was later renamed the Malty Food Bank. When the food bank was forced to move locations to make room for the expansion of Highway 522, generosity from the public enabled the group to purchase its new building.

And continued support keeps the shelves full. In 2017, area schools contributed roughly 20,000 pounds of food. Another 26,000 pounds was collected during two food drives, one sponsored by letter carriers and another hosted by Safeway for the holidays.

This week, preparing for give-out day, which happens every Thursday, a dozen or so volunteers bustled around sorting fresh produce and bread. The food bank makes multiple runs to nearby grocery stores each week to gather donated produce and other perishables.

“We have a very caring community,” said Mary Rupert, 89, of Maltby.

Rupert has been volunteering at the food bank since it opened, recruited by one of the founders, Fran Walster, who also happened to be married to Rupert’s brother. Another sister-in-law, Pat Walster, 80, of Clearview, joined the team.

“We couldn’t say no when she asked,” Pat Walster said.

Leela Covey, Phyllis Bresheare and Dorothy Wood were the other three founders. Together, they wanted to offer food, but also unconditional love and support to the families they served.

“You volunteer to make a difference, then the benefits come to you,” said Dianne Lynden, 74, of Maltby, a coordinator for the food bank.

During those early years, the food bank was serving about 15 families. Today about 170 families come through the new location near the intersection of Highway 524 and 86th Ave SE, just down the road from the Maltby Cafe.

The food bank works like a grocery store, letting clients choose the products they want. Toiletries, diapers and cleaning supplies are provided when available.

In celebration of its 25 years, the Maltby Food Bank is holding an open house Sunday between 1 p.m and 4 p.m, with presentations planned for 2 p.m.

Lizz Giordano: 425-374-4165; egiordano@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @lizzgior.

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