Food bank supplies tend to shrink after the holidays and John Neill knows to expect that.
He is executive director of the Tri-Cities Food Bank, which has locations in Kennewick, Richland and Benton City, so he has plenty of experience with the ebb and flow of charitable giving. But, he said, his group isn’t seeing a dip in the number of people who come for food to help them get by.
And that’s not quite so typical.
“We don’t see any seasonality in the client increases anymore. It’s just constant,” he said. “My analysis of that is there are more people unemployed and underemployed in the community, and things are getting more expensive. They’re relying on us more heavily earlier in the month than normal.”
Donations that came in during the holidays are pretty much gone, and the food bank is seeing less from grocery stores, Neill said. Also, “we’re really in a transition period when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables because nothing is growing now,” he said.
The food bank recently has been serving about 75 families a day at both its Kennewick and Richland locations, which are open Monday to Friday, and about 50 families a day in Benton City, which is open Wednesdays and Thursdays. Neill told the Herald last fall that his organization has seen demand grow by 20 percent annually the last couple of years.
At least one other local food bank also is running low on donations. LeEllen Bradshaw, director of Pasco Community Service Food Bank, said her group could use staples such as flour, sugar and oil, other food items and clothing and household items.“Anything that anyone can think of that might go into their home is something we can give to someone less fortunate,” Bradshaw said. Her food bank helps about 180 families a week — an increase over last year, she said.
Salvation Army’s Pasco food bank also is seeing more clients, said Amy Hetrick from the agency. Sina Pierret, president and food bank manager for the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Pasco, said her group is seeing many new families come in for help, and also a growing number of homeless people.
The organization is giving out about 725 to 750 food boxes a week, she said.
The Tri-City Union Gospel Mission serves hot meals and also gives out food boxes. Donations peak around the holidays and dip the most in July and August, said Andrew Porter, associate executive director.
This week, his group got a large donation of hats, shirts and other promotional items. The goods — worth an estimated $300,000 — are from United Rentals, which has a branch in Pasco and recently bought out RSC Equipment Rental. The company Indian Eyes LLC helped facilitate the gift.
Porter said the items are a big boost to the mission’s clothing inventory. And, he said, “anything we can share with other (local organizations), of course we will.”
-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @saraTCHerald
How to help
Here’s contact information for local food banks:
-- Tri-Cities Food Bank, www.tricitiesfoodbank.org
-- Salvation Army in Pasco, 547-2138
-- Golden Age Food Share in Pasco, 547-8310
-- St. Vincent de Paul Society in Pasco, 544-9315
-- Second Harvest in Pasco, 545-0787
-- Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, 547-2112
-- Pasco Community Service Food Bank, 547-4998