The Wahkiakum County Eagle

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Wahkiakum food banks continue to feed many

Published on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 by Diana Zimmerman

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    Local food banks and programs in Wahkiakum County are working hard with local support to continue to provide food for adults and children in the community who are struggling with food insecurity. With the recent cuts in aid, high unemployment and a winter break at schools, these groups are seeing more people coming through their doors. Here is an update:

 

    According to Mary Dasher, the Helping Hand Food Bank located in the River Rat Tap building on Broadways Street serves low income people, the working poor, or simply, anyone that needs food.

 

    Dasher said the organization would be grateful for any donations at this time, whether it is food or money.

 

    “Last week we gave away 300 pounds of donated food in one day,” said Dasher. “It was a big week and we are out of several items.”

 

    Helping Hand may attempt a pledge drive at some point, hoping to find people willing to commit to donating every month, as the need to provide a safety net for the food insecure in our community is ever present.

 

    Potential donors and volunteers can reach Dasher at 749-3511.

 

    GAP (Giving Action Plan) is a program that was created by local teacher Lisa Sauer Ridout. After watching kids come to school hungrier on a Monday morning than they were on a Thursday, she realized they were not getting enough to eat at home on the weekend. She created GAP to change that.

 

    “There are no disqualifiers for getting food,” Ridout said. Any child that signs up is sent home with food over weekends and every holiday.

 

    For those who wish to volunteer or who have questions, Ridout can be reached at 430-4840. Donations can be sent to GAP, PO Box 12, Cathlamet, WA 98612 or deposited into the GAP account at the Bank of the Pacific.  

 

    The St. Catherine’s Catholic Church Food Bank  shares a partnership with St. Vincent de Paul to provide food for locals.

 

    “We serve everyone that comes,” said Deacon Fred Johnson.

 

    They have a special program through Longview Community Action Program (CAP) to provide commodities to people who qualify. These people are what Johnson describes as “the poorest of the poor.” The food bank shares the commodities provided by CAP with these individuals and families, but other food is available to anyone who comes through the doors.

 

    The number of families qualifying for the commodity program has been increasing, according to Johnson.

 

    “We served 81 families last month,” he said, “and with the recent decrease in food stamps and the loss of the nursing home as a source of employment for people here, there has been a very quick impact on the level of need in our community.”

 

    According to Johnson, they are looking for volunteers and donations are always welcome. People interested in volunteering can contact the St. Vincent de Paul number, 577-0662. St. Catherine’s Food Bank is open on the first and third Wednesdays of the month.

 

    The Wahkiakum County Food Bank is in good shape right now, according to its president, Jimmie Lou Cleveland.

 

    “We are good to go. God is really helping us with people and finances,” Cleveland said. “People are really generous this time of year.”

 

    However, there are plenty of opportunities throughout the year to make donations. “It’s harder to keep the shelves stocked March through July,” Cleveland said, “especially when school is out.”

 

    Cleveland can be reached at 795-3553.