PASCO -- Hundreds of people stood in line Thursday, many holding cardboard boxes over their heads to block lightly falling snow at Tierra Vida in east Pasco.
Soon those boxes were full of potatoes, tomatoes, bread, lettuce, coleslaw, dressing, carrots and apples distributed by Second Harvest's mobile food bank. The reward for braving the weather was meals for needy families.
One of those waiting to get a box filled was Abigail Rodriguez, who said in Spanish that she came to the mobile food bank because there isn't much work during the agriculture off season. Her husband has worked for Broetje Orchards for 20 years, and all six of their sons also work there.
One of her sons, who is a supervisor, found out about the mobile food bank visit and told her, she said.
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"It's really good that they are doing this because it's something we really need right now," she said.
The mobile food bank gave out 8,500 pounds of food Thursday to about 250 families, said Dawn Wieber, Second Harvest director of member services.
Second Harvest typically serves as a food bank for area food banks, providing them with fresh produce and other donated food.
Wieber said the nonprofit uses the mobile food banks to reach rural areas that don't have the same resources that are available in cities with food banks. And the mobile food banks speed the delivery of produce and perishable items, which make up 70 percent of the agency's products, she said.
Last year, Second Harvest provided mobile food bank visits 117 times in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, Wieber said. Between July of this year and next June, it aims to provide 150.
Randy Schacht, Second Harvest food safety manager, said the Thursday mobile food bank visit was the third held in Pasco this year.
The apples given to families Thursday were donated by Broetje Orchards, and Wieber said the company is part of the reason the food bank visit was in east Pasco. Broetje Orchards is a generous donor and asked to help in providing the food bank in east Pasco, she said.
CASA LLC, a Broetje Orchards affiliate that is developing the Tierra Vida community, provided space for the mobile food bank in the parking lot of the Collegium, which serves as the neighborhood's community center.
Leanne Smith, CASA community outreach coordinator, said people were waiting in line 45 minutes before the mobile food bank was scheduled to open.
"There are a lot of hungry people out there," she said.
Maria Avila of Prescott said in Spanish that she and her boyfriend, Francisco Hernandez, needed food for similar reasons as Rodriguez.
Both work at Broetje, and Avila said her job at Broetje's daycare center won't start again until February because they don't have as many children to care for in the off season.
Hernandez, who works in the fields, should start working again this month, she said.
Avila said the food will help her family make it to the end of the month. "This gives us an opportunity to stretch our resources," she said.
* Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org