Sultan will keep feeding homeless

SULTAN – After all, said Carolyn Eslick, the town’s food bank exists to feed anyone who shows up.

That means the food bank will continue to do what it has always done: feed the homeless.

Some residents blamed the food bank for allowing homeless people to remain in town by feeding them, said Eslick, the food bank’s president. On Tuesday, the food bank held a meeting to hear what the community had to say.

Even though the meeting drew only a few people, Eslick said the issue has been resolved and the food bank will continue to operate as it always has.

Since the issue came up, Eslick has received phone calls and e-mails from people encouraging the food bank to keep feeding the homeless – or anyone else, she said.

Donations of money and food increased in December, and three new people said they would like to serve on the food bank’s board, Eslick said.

“I feel wonderful about it,” she said.

The food bank, which serves about 1,750 people a month, refuses to give out food only when a recipient appears to be drunk or high on drugs, said Alan Curtis, a board member.

Board members on Tuesday discussed a plan to team up with Volunteers of America to help homeless people get back on track. VOA is about to complete a new building next to the food bank, Eslick said, and she is negotiating with the social services group to let the food bank send its clients to a counselor at the new building.

In winter, the food bank doesn’t serve many transients, since they often migrate to warmer climates in the fall, Curtis said. They usually return in the spring.

Merlin Halverson, Sultan’s fire chief, said the issue of transients in the town shouldn’t fall solely on the shoulders of the food bank. Many transient people have mental illnesses or abuse alcohol and drugs, Halverson said. His fire district, which has three paid firefighters and 30 volunteer firefighters, has responded to numerous calls related to transients.

“It could be a fight. It could be a drunk in the middle of the road,” he said.

If the number of transients continues to increase, the food bank could be overwhelmed, Halverson said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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