On one day earlier this month, 100 new families lined up outside Pasco's St. Vincent de Paul Society Food Bank to ask for help.
Both the Pasco food bank and the Tri-Cities Food Bank have seen an increase in new families this winter and are serving more families this holiday season than last year.
The Pasco food bank is preparing to serve more than 800 families Wednesday, said Linda Hermann, St. Vincent de Paul Society secretary. Last year, it fed about 720 families during Christmas week.
And families who haven't been to the food bank in two to five years are coming back, Hermann said. The average this year has been about 550 families a week, she said.
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For some, unemployment benefits have run out, and they still can't find work, she said. Others are working but not earning enough to pay all the bills and eat.
And some people moved to the Tri-Cities because they heard jobs were available but haven't found work, she said.
In November, 325 new families came to the food bank, said Sina Pierret, St. Vincent de Paul Society president and food bank manager. The Pasco food bank served about 700 families this week, Pierret said, adding that the number of clients increased in November after farm work was no longer available.
Among the Tri-Cities Food Banks, demand has been highest at the Kennewick Food Bank, which has been serving an average of 365 families per week, said John Neill, Tri-Cities Food Bank executive director.
Kennewick also has seen a large number of new families, he said. "I just think that there are more people in need and new people in need," Neill said.
The Richland Food Bank is serving 250 to 300 families per week. Even Benton City Food Bank's client numbers are up, with about 110 families a week, Neill said.
The good news is that donations to the Pasco food bank have increased with the approach of the holiday, Pierret said.
"People have been very generous in donating to us," she said. "We have the food. We pass it out."
The Pasco food bank still needs dairy products, protein-rich foods and cash donations.
Donations to the Tri-Cities Food Bank have kept up with demand so far, Neill said.
And donations of cash have increased this year.
Recently, Hanford High School donated 4,600 pounds of food from the school's food drive, Neill said. And Mission Support Alliance, Hanford's support services contractor, donated about 400 pounds of turkey.
The Tri-Cities Food Bank continues to need cash donations and nonperishable foods.
Neill asks that people remember the food banks still need help after the holidays. "People still eat after the holidays are over," he said.