Take a look around and count nine people.
One of them, statistically, doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from, according to the food bank organization Feeding America.
As the holidays approach, the need for food and money donations increases for food banks across Benton and Franklin counties.
This Thanksgiving was one of the busiest that Bill Kitchen, Tri-Cities Food Bank’s director, has seen in recent years, he said.
“We’ve been averaging 100 to 120 people each day,” he said in the days before Thanksgiving. He expects a similar crowd for Christmas.
The need also increases in the winter as children receiving free or reduced breakfast and lunch at school leave for winter break.
The food bank, which serves Benton City, Finley, Kennewick, Richland and West Richland, accepts food and cash donations at any of its locations, as well as the central office at 420 W. Deschutes Ave.
Additionally, more than 30 food drives are running this season, with thousands of pounds of food going to Second Harvest and then to area food banks.
Five food drives are open to the public. They started Monday with Yoke’s Season of Giving, and continue though Dec. 16. The food drives will be held at:
▪ Yoke’s Season of Giving until Dec. 15. People can buy a prepacked bag of groceries for $5 or $10 or donate at the register.
▪ Christmas at the Carousel on Dec. 7 at the Gesa Carousel of Dreams. People can attend the event for free if they bring two nonperishable food items.
▪ Senske Holiday Light Show Open House on Dec. 8 and 9 at 400 N. Quay St. in Kennewick. People can get a family portrait with Santa for every donation of food or cash to Second Harvest. Dutch Bros. Coffee is donating a portion of their proceeds to the organization.
▪ Pasco Winter Fest on Dec. 9 at Volunteer Park. Food will be collected for Second Harvest.
▪ Project Fill the Bus/ Desert Plateau Neighborhood Luminaria on Dec. 15 and 16. People can bring nonperishable foods to any Pasco school until Dec. 15 or attend the Desert Plateau neighborhood event.
Along with food, Second Harvest accepts cash. Because of the organization’s buying power, they can provide five meals for each $1 spent, said Michele Roth, the organization’s community impact director.