Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Food bank: 'Our shelves are bare'

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 1:30 PM

click to enlarge TCG_EmptyFoodBank__1_.jpeg.jpg

The City Gate — a Christian nonprofit downtown, which has a meal program and a food bank that helps about 170 people a month — is begging for help feeding its clients.

"We served over 1,300 families including many homeless individuals because of our downtown location in 2012 and we are currently OUT OF FOOD to serve those who are coming in daily," writes Andra Phelps, the organization's public relations coordinator, in an email plea to members of the Spokane Homeless Coalition. (The emphasis is her own.)

Phelps went on to write that the last pickup the nonprofit got from 2nd Harvest, which supplies 250 food banks in the area, was "mostly bags of marshmelllows [sic] which means 2nd Harvest is struggling also." She clarified in a phone call with The Inlander that Second Harvest did provide produce, eggs and frozen foods, but barely any boxed or canned goods to send home with food bank clients.

We told you more about the ongoing struggle to fill food bank shelves back in November. 

Melissa Cloninger, director of community relations for Second Harvest, says the situation isn't so dire they're giving out "mostly marshmallows," but they are struggling to meet Spokane's total need. That's because Second Harvest would need more funding and infrastructure to distribute more food, not because of a shortage of farmers and grocers willing to donate. Last year, Second Harvest gave out 2 million more pounds of food than it did the year before, and more than double what it distributed in 2009. 

"It isn't necessarily indicative of our struggle to get donated food," Cloninger says. "City Gate is far more indicative of what we're all seeing, and [the need] is still unprecedented."  

If you'd like to lend a hand, check out Second Harvest's "How to help" page. To help The City Gate directly, find them at 170 S. Madison and open Tuesday through Friday 10-3. They're online here, on Facebook here, and available at 455-9670.

[The photo above is courtesy of The City Gate, and shows their nearly empty shelves last summer.]


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