Tri-Cities Food Bank gets new director

By Sara Schilling Tri-City HeraldMay 29, 2014 

Bill Kitchen ran into John Neill at a grocery store in December 2011.

Neill, then the executive director of the Tri-Cities Food Bank, learned Kitchen had just retired and invited him to help out at the food bank.

Kitchen did, and 21/2 years later he's stepping up to lead the organization.

The food bank board unanimously picked him this week to replace Neill, who is leading Fields of Grace gleaning ministry.

Kitchen, 65, said he looks forward to taking the food bank reins.

"I'm excited as can be. I've been looking for a niche after retiring -- a way to give back to the community," he said, adding that with this new role, "I'm able to center in on one."

He has been involved with other organizations, from Meals on Wheels to SIGN Fracture Care International, since retiring from a management position with Washington River Protection Solutions, the Hanford tank farm contractor.

He's on the board of The Chaplaincy and is helping raise money for a facility for the Knights Community Hospital Equipment Lend Program, which lends medical equipment at no charge.

The Tri-Cities Food Bank has sites in Richland, Kennewick and Benton City, serving thousands.

It has about 300 volunteers, who logged more than 3,000 hours from October of last year through March this year.

Kitchen's appointment to executive director isn't the organization's only recent personnel move. The board also has a new member: retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, who graduated from high school in Richland.

Kitchen will fill the executive director position as a volunteer.

VJ Meadows, food bank board president, said Kitchen has a drive to help the hungry.

"We feel that he's the right person at the right time for us to continue to meet the needs in the community. We're so impressed with him," she told the Herald.

She noted that the board is looking at some restructuring to help spread out the management workload, and she said that Kitchen is the right person to build on the organization's successes.

"We are thrilled over all the progress that's been made and we really believe that Bill is going to stand on the shoulders of what John and everyone else has done," she said.

Kitchen, a father of five who lives in Richland with his wife, Judy, officially starts as executive director a week from Monday.

-- Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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