Volunteer Kevin Boldt and Jennifer Chapman direct shopping carts full of food outside at the Marysville Community Food Bank on Nov. 30. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Volunteer Kevin Boldt and Jennifer Chapman direct shopping carts full of food outside at the Marysville Community Food Bank on Nov. 30. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Snohomish County food banks fill stomaches, hearts

“It’s a lot of people to feed.” Community food banks prepare to supplement needs this holiday season.

STANWOOD — Magic is in the air at the Stanwood Camano Food Bank — or at least that’s how the staff sees it.

“When we need something, it shows up,” said Kathy Moe, executive director of the food bank. “People are just so giving, you have to be here and experience it.”

Trucks arrive with beds full of food donations. Frozen turkeys and pies ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, and a stockpile of sliced bread after supplies ran low.

Moe’s voice cracked with emotion as she described a woman donating $50 and telling the food bank staff, “You helped me when I needed you, now it’s my turn to help you.”

Snohomish County food banks have faced an unprecedented demand in 2020. As the pandemic pauses paychecks, people are flocking to community food banks for assistance.

“The COVID situation is really taking a toll on food banks, because the line just keeps getting longer … and we aren’t able to get a lot of food in,” Moe said. “It’s a lot of people to feed.”

A few dozen clients circled through the Marysville Community Food Bank on the last day of November. Shopping carts stacked to the brim with a mixture of perishables and nonperishables were ushered to cars as folks pulled up. Volunteers guessed that many patrons may still be polishing off leftovers from large food donations before Thanksgiving.

Volunteers gather food as they work below a stuffed turkey at the Marysville Community Food Bank on Nov. 30. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Volunteers gather food as they work below a stuffed turkey at the Marysville Community Food Bank on Nov. 30. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Dell Deierling, director of the food bank, isn’t fooled by one down-tempo day. The holiday season is a time of greatest need and Deierling said he is anxious for the next month.

“I see that we will be faced with more need, because I don’t see how we can avoid it,” he said. “We always see an increase this time of year. We are going to see that coupled with what’s going on as a result of the pandemic.”

The Lynnwood Food Bank is strapped by a similar demand.

At the onset of the coronavirus crisis, director Alissa Jones said lines backed up traffic to Highway 99. With each new state mandate, she said the food bank braces for another surge in clientele.

“The rule of the food bank is we are flexible,” Jones said. “We’ve embraced that.”

Using a style Jones likened to ferry lanes, volunteers funnel hundreds of customers through the Lynnwood Food Bank parking lot twice a week. Between April and October, about 13,000 families — 46,000 people — were assisted from the location.

Shopping carts full of food wait to be delivered to those in need at the Marysville Community Food Bank on Nov. 30. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Shopping carts full of food wait to be delivered to those in need at the Marysville Community Food Bank on Nov. 30. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

At local schools, the giving continues. Food banks in Lynnwood, Marysville, Stanwood and elsewhere, are delivering weekly meal kits to students and opening pop-up pantries to provide food where possible.

Other supplemental programs operated from food banks have given more than 1,100 Stanwood children new coats and thousands more will receive holiday presents from gift giveaways in Stanwood and Marysville.

Each food bank director was clear, outside support keeps their operation running.

“This whole food bank thing does not work without a generous community and the examples of this don’t end,” Deierling said.

The outpouring of assistance has been amazing, Moe said, and especially needed during this time of uncertainty. Still, the Stanwood Camano Food Bank director shared fears of what the next few months may bring. She anticipates a donation dry spell and a demand for food that isn’t going away.

“We don’t know what is going to happen after the holidays, usually the donations plummet,” Moe said. “Making sure we have enough food for the next six months is what I am looking at right now. We have to keep going regardless.”

Dell Deierling, director of the Marysville Community Food Bank, talks with volunteers before they start handing out food Nov. 30. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Dell Deierling, director of the Marysville Community Food Bank, talks with volunteers before they start handing out food Nov. 30. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

How to help

Lynnwood Food Bank

Food Distribution: Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

5320 176th Street SW, Lynnwood, WA 98037

425-745-1635, LynnwoodFoodBank@Comcast.net

Stanwood Camano Food Bank

Food Distribution: Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

27030 102nd Avenue NW, Stanwood, WA 98292

360-629 2789 scfoodbank@scfbs.org

Marysville Community Food Bank

Food Distribution: Mondays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for seniors and the disabled only, Tuesdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

4150 88th Street NE, Marysville, WA 98270

360-658-1054, marysvillefoodbank@frontier.com

The Snohomish County Food Bank Coalition, scfbc99@gmail.com, to find a food bank near you.

Ian Davis-Leonard: 425-339-3448; idavisleonard@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @IanDavisLeonard.

Ian Davis-Leonard reports on working class issues through Report for America, a national service program that places emerging journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues. To support Ian’s work at The Daily Herald with a tax-deductible donation, go to www.heraldnet.com/support.

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