Island responds to a growing need for food

Those struggling financially on the island can find a free meal or groceries almost every day of the week on Whidbey Island.

More so than ever, the island’s religious and civic communities are banding together under the moniker “Feed the Need,” formerly the Interfaith Coalition of Whidbey Island, to ensure no one goes hungry.

“Our job is to tell the story so the community can respond,” said Kathy McCabe, executive director of the Good Cheer Food Bank in Langley.

“No one wants people to go hungry.”

While the number of families served on the south end typically increases by about 10 percent each year, last year the growth was much smaller, McCabe said.

That’s a good sign, McCabe said. “We’re meeting the needs.”

Cuts to federal programs, including the USDA’s SNAP program in December, however, have affected the amount of food each family has needed.

McCabe said the community was notified that need may increase and it responded by increasing donations.

“When you let the community know of your needs, they respond,” McCabe said.

Jean Wieman, executive director of North Whidbey Help House, said that the food bank saw a decrease in cash donations, but Help House put some funds away for a rainy day.

“It started raining last year,” Wieman said.

Nonetheless, Wieman said she is constantly amazed by the generosity of island residents.

“This community is amazing,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

Wieman said the Feed the Need network has been a great resource for those struggling financially.

“It’s a very good network,” Wieman said. “It may not be perfect, but we do what we can.”

Both food banks cater to families that are struggling financially in addition to the homeless population.

At Help House, the homeless receive smaller, cartable bags of easily accessed food. On South Whidbey, the homeless are allow to shop in the store-like building for food items that work for them.

In addition to the food banks, where people are allowed to visit each month, several organizations serve free meals in Oak Harbor every day of the week but Sunday:

n St. Augustine’s Church serves 5-6:30 p.m. Mondays at 185 N. Oak Harbor St.

n Spin Cafe serves 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at 658 S.E. Bayshore Drive

n First Reformed Church serves 5-6 p.m. Tuesdays at 250 S.W. Third St.

n Oak Harbor Christian Reformed Church serves 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at 1411 Wieldaayer Road September through May

n My Father’s House Community Thrift hands out bag lunches at 11 a.m. Fridays at 1036 S.E. Pioneer Way

n Grace by the Sea serves 5-7 p.m. Fridays at 555 S.E. Regatta Drive

n Opportunity Council Homeless Outreach serves 11 a.m. to noon Satrudays at City Beach Park

n Flintstone Outreach Ministry serves at 2 p.m. Saturdays at Flintstone Park


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