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Whidbey Island food banks in need for Thanksgiving

North Whidbey Help House director Jean Wieman looks over a mostly empty pallet used to store food. Despite hundreds of families seeking help from the food bank, donations have been noticeably less in recent weeks. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
North Whidbey Help House director Jean Wieman looks over a mostly empty pallet used to store food. Despite hundreds of families seeking help from the food bank, donations have been noticeably less in recent weeks.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

Whidbey food banks will serve more families than ever this holiday season, but warehouses are becoming bare.

The North Whidbey Help House’s warehouse is fairly empty, said Jean Wieman, executive director.

Donations are down 30,000 food items compared to last year.

“They’re not down a whole lot but the numbers (needing help) are up from last year so it makes a big difference,” Wieman said.

From January through October this year, the Help House has served 13,668 people, which is up more than 500 people from last year’s count of 13,131 people served.

For Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Help House will distribute special holiday food baskets, which include everything needed for a tasty turkey dinner, like stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie filling and more.

The Help House will distribute holiday baskets to 160 military families and more than 400 civilian families, Wieman said.

People can sign up for a Thanksgiving basket until Wednesday, Nov. 23. Christmas basket sign-ups begin Monday, Nov. 28. To sign up, people should visit the Help House, located at 1091 SE Hathaway St., Oak Harbor, and bring a picture ID and a utility bill or other document with their current address.

Gifts from the Heart Food Bank in Coupeville will be feeding 160 families in Coupeville and Greenbank for Thanksgiving. Sign-ups for food baskets have ended.

The food bank usually serves 125 families at each twice-monthly distribution in Coupeville and Greenbank. The number of people served has increased 16 percent this year, said executive director Molly Hughes.

“That’s the highest single year increase in clients in recent history,” Hughes said.

However, food drives resulted in half as much food as usual.

“Food donations are down this year but monetary donations remained pretty consistent,” Hughes said, adding that the food bank has had to buy more food than in the past.

The relay race fundraiser at Coupeville’s Harvest Festival earlier this year brought in $10,000 for the food bank, which was more money than the last three years of the fundraiser combined, Hughes said.

“So our community is doing a great job of supporting us,” Hughes said.

Gifts from the Heart needs basic food items, including canned entrees, chili, stews, hearty soups, spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese, canned fruits, tomatoes and cereals.

The food bank is especially in need of canned tuna, canned chicken and peanut butter.

“Protein is always the hardest donation for food banks to get and it’s the most expensive to buy,” Hughes said.

The Help House welcomes “anything,” Wieman said.

“We’re almost out of everything,” she added.

This time of year, food banks need to be restocked for the following year and welcome nonperishable food items and monetary donations.

“We’re just still plugging along and we’ve still never had to turn anyone away due to consistent support of the food bank. The community always rises to the occasion,” Hughes said.

Gifts from the Heart is located at 203 N. Main St., Coupeville. For information call 678-8312.

For information about the Help House, call 675-0681.

 

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