The air is crisp and cool. Leaves crunch beneath feet as people line up outside of the Friday Harbor Food Bank, donning mittens and hats. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with that the onset on winter.
The Food Bank sees a jump in the number of people utilizing its services this time of year.
“The need grows through the winter time,” said the Food Bank’s Board President Bill Cumming. “Seasonal employment has ended.”
The Food Bank serves between 140 and 160 families per week, providing canned and boxed goods, along with fresh eggs, dairy and vegetables. Every year they hand out Thanksgiving dinners, complete with stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie, a medley of vegetables and a frozen turkey. Turkeys were donated by Kings Market, 160 in total.
Food Bank Manager Allen Messick said that the 160 Thanksgiving dinners distributed, excluding the price of the turkeys, cost about $2,500. Stocking the Food Bank relies on federal subsidies and donations from organizations and individuals to meet the community’s needs, especially this time of year.
“This is a lifeline to the island in times of need and stress,” said board member Patricia Vannest. “We see a 20 percent increase around this time, at least.”
The Food Bank will also distribute Christmas dinners next month, with frozen hams donated by Kings. Dinners will be available the week before the holiday.
Through the Town of Friday Harbor’s Life Ring Program, a program introduced in 2013 to provide financial support through donations to families in need of relief in their utility bills, the Food Bank has received a generous contribution. In its October utility billing statement, the town informed customers that any donations made in November would go to the Food Bank.
The Town matched the first $1,000, and community members came up with the rest of the $3,132 donated to the Food Bank.
“I cannot thank this community enough for once again supporting our mission here” Cumming said. “These donations will assure a happy holiday season for a great number of people in need.”
You don’t need to be within certain income parameters to receive food, anyone who is an island resident is welcome at the Food Bank. Its hours are Wednesdays and Saturdays, 12-2 p.m.
If you are interested in volunteering, or giving a cash or food donation, contact Messick at 378-4640.