Bags of food may have arrived, but Pasco's Golden Age Food Share still anticipates being swamped with more need than food.
"We can use anything we can get," said Anne Montgomery, the food bank's director and founder.
Golden Age Food Share and other Mid-Columbia food banks are bracing for high demand this holiday season. Already, food banks are seeing more demand for food assistance than last year.
Tri-Cities isn't insulated
People say the Tri-Cities is insulated, but that isn't accurate, said Kathye Kilgore, Second Harvest Tri-Cities director. Donations are down, while demand is up at food banks.
And some Hanford workers who lost their jobs in recent layoffs also were the ones who made regular cash donations to Second Harvest Tri-Cities, Kilgore said.
The Tri-Cities is used to the boom-and-bust cycle, but this time, hunger is hitting more than those who people expect, she said.
John Neill, Tri-Cities Food Banks executive director, is seeing more unemployed workers, college students and seniors. He noted that living expenses and tuition have gone up.
Senior demand up 30%
Golden Age Food Share has seen the number of senior families needing help grow by almost 30 percent this year. Montgomery said Golden Age is helping 450 senior families a week, which is about 100 more than last year.
Social Security isn't keeping up with the increase in medical, utilities, food and rent, said Linda Hermann, St. Vincent de Paul Society secretary.
Donations have gone down a bit, although churches and the Pasco Autoplex food drive have helped, Montgomery said. But they need vegetables, fresh produce, juice and cash.
Need for protein
The need for donations is a common theme among all the food banks. At St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Bank in Pasco, Sina Pierret, the society's executive director and food bank manager, said it needs any protein and dry goods it can get. Any donations, including cash, would help, she said.
Last week, St. Vincent de Paul helped 625 families representing about 2,560 people, Hermann said. That's about 100 more families a week than last month.
And Pierret said it is preparing to give out about 700 boxes of food for Thanksgiving on Wednesday.
37 food drives being run
There are 37 food drives being run by businesses, churches, schools and other groups now, Kilgore said. That is the most in any one time and is a direct reflection of the needs.
Kilgore said Second Harvest needs to get more food to pass on to the 55 food banks in Benton and Franklin counties the nonprofit works with. "We are literally a day-by-day" operation, she said.
But in north Franklin County, Darlene Harrington, director of the Connell Food Bank, said there haven't been any holiday food drives.
The Connell Food Bank is helping 150 to 200 families a month, and donations have been slow, she said.
Drop in single donations
At the Tri-Cities Food Banks, some food is coming in from holiday food drives, Neill said.
"Our shelves are starting to fill up, but so are our waiting rooms," he said.
The Kennewick food bank is averaging 75 families a day, and Richland sees about 40 to 60 per day, Neill said.
"It's only going to get busier," he said.
Neill said he is seeing a drop in individuals donating.
"People are planning for Christmas, and they just don't have a lot of extra cash," he said.
The food bank still needs canned vegetable and such holiday staples as turkeys, hams, sweet potatoes and dressing, he said. And it needs volunteers.
"This is a great time to step up," he said.