Local Food Bank Volunteer Feeds Thousands of Families - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Local Food Bank Volunteer Feeds Thousands of Families in 18 Years

SPOKANE, Wash. - Across the northwest, food banks are seeing more customers than ever. The numbers speak for themselves: in Washington, food banks saw a 16 percent increase in hungry families during the last federal fiscal year.

Oregon saw a 20 percent increase during the last fiscal year and Idaho food banks served 31 percent more this year than last.

Food bank employees said the recession is taking its toll. Nowadays, they say it's not just low income families seeking help but middle class families as well. And and as we move into the summer months, when kids don't have school breakfasts and lunches to rely on, the need is greater than ever.

That's why KHQ is hosting Success by Six Family Food Drive to help Spokane families on June 1, 2011.

One person that's making her own contribution to the food drive is Carolyn Wilson. She and her husband started volunteering at Second Harvest in 1992. If she filled just twenty boxes of food a week that would fill the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena twice over her 18 years.

She comes to Second Harvest Food Bank with several Audubon Park members once a week every Tuesday morning for three hours. Wilson works behind the scenes packing up boxes, sorting produce, or helping with food drives.

Wilson understands folks in the community are struggling to make it and she's pleased she can lend a hand.

"Well, it's a blessing to bless others and that's the bottom line I think to know that you're helping others and we have needy people and they're not any different than us, they're just in hard times," she said.

Volunteers are invaluable to the food bank as this year alone since Wieber said they'll sort eight million pounds of produce. Carolyn is 70 and said she has plenty of years ahead of her at the food bank.

TRACKING DONATIONS:

Once food and cash is donated to Second Harvest, it goes directly to the main warehouse where it will be sorted out into perishable and non-perishable items. Then the food will be shipped out to 250 local food banks, churches and neighborhood meal centers all over eastern Washington and north Idaho where people pick up the food.

Each month, Wieber said they see 40,000 people go to those local food banks and that that number is growing.

"I think it's pretty staggering when you think about the number and it just keeps growing and growing and we have just not seen a decline," Rod Wieber said, Second Harvest Chief Resource Officer. "Hunger has been, as we call it, this freight train that we've just been trying to keep pace with it for the last three years."

Food donations come from all over the place too including grocery stores or local farms. Second Harvest has even begun asking for veggies from your own garden.

Cash donations are important as Wieber said $1 will go toward six pounds of food which could feed a family of four.

You can drop your donations off at the KHQ station, at Trading Company stores in Spokane, Cheney and Post Falls, at the American West Bank on Newport Highway or in Coeur d'Alene, and at American Family Insurance on Regal.

ITEMS IN NEED: anything non-perishable like think peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, or tuna.

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