MARYSVILLE — On a cool fall day, the line stretched out the door of the Marysville Community Food Bank.
This was at the start of the holiday season, so the lines were expected. But it also came during the year when the food bank increased the amount of support it provides its clients in the Marysville and Tulalip areas.
In July, the food bank increased the number of visits its clients could make from twice to three times per month. That resulted in the bank serving about 120 more families per month.
So far, it’s working out, said Dell Deierling, the executive director of the food bank. The expansion required about $6,000 in additional groceries per month.
“The board told me, ‘Calm down, the community will respond,’ and they have,” Deierling said.
Over three days just before Thanksgiving, 693 families visited the food bank, and almost all of them elected to pick up a turkey with their other groceries, he said.
Also, 125 Zodiac Aerospace employees donated the turkeys they received from the company for Thanksgiving to the food bank, Deierling said.
The international plane equipment and parts manufacturer has several local operations, including in Marysville and Everett.
Waiting in line outside the food bank was LaCinda Harris, who has been coming to the food bank since her first child was born seven years ago.
Harris also has a 1-year-old at home and lives with her father, so she comes as often as she’s able.
“My fridge would be empty. My kids would starve,” she said.
Henry Schwartz started coming after his medical bills started mounting after several surgeries. His rent has also gone up and he’s spending about $120 a month on medication, he said.
Without the food bank, he said, something would have to give. But then he joked, “I’ve got diabetes, so I wouldn’t miss the cake.”
In addition to the Thanksgiving shopping days, the food bank also held a two-day toy store in December to ensure kids would get Christmas presents.
The toy store works similarly to the regular food bank, in that the clients are taken through with a volunteer to choose toys from the selection available. The Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping days are a bit more orderly, with the clients checking off items from shopping lists.
Deierling said that about 450 families, representing 1,200 children, benefited from the toy store this year.
The Christmas grocery shopping days, the last of which is Friday, are expected to reach more than 600 families, he said.
All told, the food bank is now serving about 1,200 families in and around Marysville and Tulalip. That’s more than a tenfold increase over 1985, when several service organizations banded together to launch the food bank. They served 104 families that year.
The food bank relies heavily on a cadre of volunteers to run smoothly.
Prior to Thanksgiving, one of the many volunteers on site was Elder Seth Semadeni, a Utah native on mission to Marysville. He and several others from the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community have been volunteering at the bank every week since he arrived in the area in July.
“We just love giving service, so we come every time we can,” Semadeni said. “I love the efficiency that they do it with during the holidays.”
Deierling said about 60 volunteers showed up that day, from the LDS community and the Marysville Noon Rotary.
The frenzy likely will die down a bit after Christmas, but Deierling plans to continue serving at an accelerated pace into the new year.
In 2015, the food bank gave out 450 tons of food to nearly 14,000 households, and that number is likely to be higher for 2016. Deierling estimated that 14,600 families will be served in 2016, amounting to 475 tons of food.
Once backpacks given this year to kids in local schools are taken into account, the amount of food going out the door will easily top 1 million pounds this year, Deierling said.
“This isn’t a short-term change,” Deierling said. “Don’t forget about us as we move out of the holidays.”