‘Hope travels on food’ — Clark County Food Bank perseveres through COVID-19

Food bank will remain open and functioning with volunteers still able to help and donations still accepted 

CLARK COUNTY — Hope travels on food. This is the heart of Clark County Food Bank (CCFB), even during a pandemic. 

As the confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continue to rise, so too are the efforts of CCFB and its many community partners. During COVID-19, CCFB has set forth a strategy to make sure hunger is not a factor for the some 500,000 residents of Clark County.

Clark County Food Bank volunteers are limited to a low number within the facility to ensure social distancing, but maintain food supply during COVID-19. Photo courtesy of the Clark County Food Bank
Clark County Food Bank volunteers are limited to a low number within the facility to ensure social distancing, but maintain food supply during COVID-19. Photo courtesy of the Clark County Food Bank

“There’s a lot of things to worry about right now, but food just shouldn’t be one of them,” said Holly Jones, development manager at CCFB. “We want to make sure that people are being served in that way and that they have access to food through this trying time. If we can provide food to people who need it, then we’re also providing hope to them that they can get through whatever it is that might be weighing them down.”

In order to abide by Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home” order and social distancing, CCFB is still allowing volunteers but with a strictly limited number in their facilities at any given time. They are also maintaining their over 20 public-facing food pantries and continuing partnerships with area churches and schools.

Jones said the organization, much like others, has been taking the situation one day at a time, and continually reevaluated how they can best operate. With the restrictions, only 20 volunteers are currently working in the large warehouse facility at a time, which is usually closer to 50. There is also a volunteer crew that is disinfecting the facility to maintain cleanliness.    

Clark County Food Bank is currently partnering with companies to truck emergency food boxes to low-income senior living facilities across Clark County. Photo courtesy of the Clark County Food Bank
Clark County Food Bank is currently partnering with companies to truck emergency food boxes to low-income senior living facilities across Clark County. Photo courtesy of the Clark County Food Bank

The food bank is centering much of its current efforts on delivering emergency food boxes to low-income senior housing facilities. These boxes only cost $5 on average to assemble, so donations can go a very long way, especially right now Jones said. 

“We’re having some people do food box delivery, whether that’s to different low income senior residents facilities throughout the county that have requested boxes, or having volunteers start doing home deliveries as well,” she said. “People are able to stay a little farther distance from others doing that.”

With many businesses closing and employees temporarily or permanently losing their jobs, CCFB has made a new link on the website explaining how people who may not have needed the resource prior can obtain food from the 20-plus pickup locations.

If folks feel unsafe going to the locations or are unable to, they can also reach out directly to CCFB via email at info@clarkcountyfoodbank.org. Through this communication, CCFB will facilitate delivery of the food to the residence. 

With some typical food pantry locations closing due to a myriad of reasons, including elderly management needing to stay safe, CCFB is organizing several pop-up food pantry locations that can be targeted to meet a specifically affected community.

“We are actively identifying and scheduling pop-up food distribution sites throughout the community,” Jones said. “Just to make sure that if there are any pantry closures that we have a system set up to be able to still serve those in that neighborhood or community.”

The page with these sites is being updated multiple times everyday with new locations and changes to each pantry’s schedule. During the times listed, residents in need can just show up to any of the locations to obtain food. Jones said if folks can call and touch base with a pantry before going, this is best. 

A volunteer crew is currently sanitizing the Clark County Food Bank warehouse and packing facility everyday to maintain cleanliness. Photo courtesy of the Clark County Food Bank
A volunteer crew is currently sanitizing the Clark County Food Bank warehouse and packing facility everyday to maintain cleanliness. Photo courtesy of the Clark County Food Bank

Within usual donations, CCFB has set up a COVID-19 Relief Fund, of which all funds will go to helping those affected by the pandemic. For every $1,000 donated it allows the organization to assemble and deliver 200 emergency food boxes into Clark County.

People can also still donate food to CCFB. Presently, the most needed items are peanut butter, canned meat and canned soup. Usually, the food bank accepts all manner of food donations, even perishable, but right now they are asking for predominantly shelf-stable items. A donation bin has been placed outside their main building for social distancing purposes. 

“The biggest thing that we’ve been blown away by is the support of this community,” Jones said. “I think the thing that I would just want people to know is how thankful we are for how the community is rallying together to take care of people who are food insecure and are going through a hard time right now. It’s been pretty incredible just to watch the number of people who have stepped up and said, ‘I want to give or I want to volunteer.’”  

Jones went on to say how several companies with large trucks volunteered to deliver food to people. There are so many ways to get involved right now in addition to just packing food boxes, she said.

The main Clark County Food Bank location, which has the food drop-off bin, is located at 6502 NE 47th Ave. in Vancouver. Specific volunteer needs will be communicated through the CCFB Facebook page, and volunteers can email volunteer@clarkcountyfoodbank.org with questions. 

If you would like to partner financially with CCFB during COVID-19 you can visit this link on their website. If you are in need of food, the list of locations and contact info is available on this CCFB website page.  

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a graduate of WSU Pullman’s Edward R. Murrow College where he studied journalism and media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and abroad in Argentina. He has won a regional Emmy and Mark of Excellence award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his film work. His passions range from sharing the love of Jesus, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife and son in Vancouver, WA. Proverbs 16:3

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