Volunteer Pat Reeve, 78, gets a sweet response when she surprises Samuel Williford, 63, of Everett, with something to eat Wednesday at the Everett Food Bank. Reeve has volunteered there 10 years. “It’s addictive in a way,” she said. “It’s my family.” (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Volunteer Pat Reeve, 78, gets a sweet response when she surprises Samuel Williford, 63, of Everett, with something to eat Wednesday at the Everett Food Bank. Reeve has volunteered there 10 years. “It’s addictive in a way,” she said. “It’s my family.” (Dan Bates / The Herald)

You can play a role in fighting hunger without leaving home

The annual letter carriers food drive is this Saturday.

Samuel Williford sat in a waiting area at the Everett Food Bank. He was patient Wednesday as others lined up to receive groceries.

“It’s pretty decent and very much needed,” said Williford, 63, before getting in line and filling a cart. “There’s a lot of people, it’s sad. It’s helping me.”

The Everett man said he has a part-time job as a cook, his vocation for 30 years. His line of work hasn’t changed, but the cost of living has. In 1991, Williford said, his monthly rent was $331. “Now you can’t get a room for that,” he said. Today, he pays $800 a month for housing.

He’d like to retire, but may wait until turning 66 for a larger Social Security payment.

That’s the story of one food bank client — one of thousands in Snohomish County. This weekend, there’s an easy way to help.

At Volunteers of America in Everett on Wednesday, volunteer Gary Streile helps Svetlana Steshuk, 62, with a cabbage in the slightly blemished but good-to-eat department. Streile also passes out recipes. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

At Volunteers of America in Everett on Wednesday, volunteer Gary Streile helps Svetlana Steshuk, 62, with a cabbage in the slightly blemished but good-to-eat department. Streile also passes out recipes. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

On Saturday, the National Association of Letter Carriers will gather groceries during its 26th annual Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. Helped by volunteers, U.S. Postal Service workers will pick up donated items set out by mail customers. About 10,000 communities take part in the nation’s largest single-day food drive.

“This sees us through summer into the fall,” said Alison Cook, Volunteers of America Western Washington’s senior director of hunger prevention services. Last year, Snohomish County households donated 251,130 pounds of food during the one-day event. “It’s pretty amazing how much comes in,” Cook said.

With summer nearly here, she said, “it’s a great time of year” to boost food bank supplies. Kids qualifying for free or reduced-price school lunches might not have access to summer food programs.

Alison Cook is Volunteers of America’s senior director of hunger prevention services. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Alison Cook is Volunteers of America’s senior director of hunger prevention services. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Food collected Saturday will be distributed to the Snohomish County Food Bank Coalition’s 21 food banks, overseen by Volunteers of America. The Everett Food Bank, in the VOA building at 1230 Broadway and at three pop-up sites in churches, serves about 4,200 people each month.

Anyone from zip codes 98201, 98203, 98204, 98208 or 98012 is allowed to get food twice a month at the Everett Food Bank. Accommodations are made for those without ID. At the Everett facility alone, 984 babies and tots age 2 and younger, 6,787 children 3-18, 8,517 adults 55 and older, and 10,919 others have been served so far in this fiscal year ending in June.

“I wouldn’t be able to make it without this help,” said Everett’s Frank Vizena, 67. A former construction worker, on Wednesday he pushed his walker along with a grocery cart through the food bank line. Frozen chicken livers, which he fries with oil and onions, were among the goods he was taking home.

Volunteer Pat Reeve, 78, has seven pins on her VOA identification card for helping many hours. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Volunteer Pat Reeve, 78, has seven pins on her VOA identification card for helping many hours. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Food bank volunteer Gary Streile was helping in the fresh produce area. The food bank has recently gotten fruits and vegetables from Imperfect Produce, a home-delivery business in Seattle, Cook said. Streile, once a food bank client himself, hands out recipes to those wondering what to do with rutabagas and such.

“I like food and I like to cook,” said Streile, 64, whose recipes include rutabaga fries, parsnip and watercress soup, and a broccoli-apple-carrot salad.

At 78, Everett’s Pat Reeve has been a food bank volunteer for a decade. She was the shoppers’ last stop Wednesday, handing out packaged sweets. Reeve is hooked on helping. “It’s my family,” she said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@herald net.com.

Food drive Saturday

The Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is scheduled for Saturday. Mail carriers in Snohomish County delivered donation bags this week. Donors are asked to leave bags filled with nonperishable food out for mail carriers Saturday morning.

Volunteers are needed. Sign up through United Way of Snohomish County: http://getconnected.uwsc.org/

Needed items include:

• Canned meats (tuna, chicken, salmon)

• Peanut butter

• Canned soup, chili, stew

• Boxed macaroni and cheese

• Canned or dried beans

• Pasta, rice, cereal

Canned fruit and vegetables

• 100 percent fruit juice (in cans, plastic or boxed)

• Cooking oil, flour, baking products

(No glass containers; no perishable, homemade or expired items; no rusted or unlabeled cans; no soda or alcohol.)

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