Woman finds dead mouse in chips from Airway Heights food bank - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Woman finds dead mouse in chips from Airway Heights food bank

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Stephanie Halvorson made this discovery in a bag of chips. Stephanie Halvorson made this discovery in a bag of chips.
AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. -

A local woman says she found a dead rodent is a bag of chips she got from an Airway Heights food bank. 

Stephanie Halvorsen says she got the box of food at Cleone's Closet Free Distribution Center, but says when she opened the box and found the mouse, she threw everything away. The founder of the food bank, Mable Dunbar says an incident like this has never happened before at the facility.

"I was stunned more than anything because these banks are supposed make sure the food is safe," says Halvorsen, who says her family just moved into their home and they were a little short on cash.  She says she visited Cleone's Closet to help supplement the family's food.

"When I got home I noticed that there was mouse poop all over the food in the box and things looked like they'd been chewed through," says Halvorsen, "then I saw the mouse in the chips."

Dunbar founded the small food bank two years ago because of the community need.  "All I can say is if she feels that that happened and it's legitimate, all we can do is apologize.  We do our best to be clean and we don't have any food on the floor, everything is elevated."

Stephanie says she wasn't worried about anything but peoples' health and wanted them to be aware.  "Sometimes people don't notice and they feed it to their kids." 

KHQ visited the food bank on Monday and spoke with volunteers.  They tell us they do their best to make sure food is put away, stored properly and handled safely.  During our visit, as they were showing us the mousetraps they put out, unfortunately we did see a live mouse in the pantry.

"It's disappointing," says Halvorsen,  "because there are people who really need it."

Ronald Wright, who uses the food bank on and off says he thinks it's a blessing for the community.  "I've never had that problem," says Wright.  "I have recommended it and during the holidays it's a great place for people to come and get the little things that they need."

Spokane Public Health they told KHQ they don't usually do inspections on food banks because it's not prepared food. 

Dunbar told us they get most of their food from Second Harvest who also distributes food to 249 other food banks and soup kitchens.  Despite being completely separate organizations, Second Harvest has to do inspections twice a year at all of the facilities where they distribute food.

The last time they inspected Cleone's Closet was on June 22nd and it was a clean inspection .  After finding out about the mice, the community impact team from Second Harvest is going out to Cleone's Closet to do an emergency inspection Tuesday morning.  If the inspection team finds that the facility is not employing safe food handling procedures, the facility will not receive any more food for Second Harvest until the issue is resolved.   

If that should happen people will be informed where they can get food in the interim.  

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