Sequim Food Bank seeing demand

Demand is rising once again for the Sequim Food Bank.

Visits have gone up 30 percent from January to May, executive director Andra Smith said.

“It’s been crazy busy,” she said.

Volunteers report vehicle lines at times have queued from the facility down West Alder Street and onto North Sequim Avenue.

With living costs rising, Smith said they’re seeing a number of first-time users similar to 2020-2021 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One anonymous user wrote in a letter to the food bank, “Although I have never had to use the Food Bank before, I unfortunately discovered that I simply could not make it through the month without some help.”

Like their visitors, the food bank is feeling pressure. Federal aid that helped offset costs for demand during the highest severity of the pandemic is being tapered off.

For example, comparing April 2021 with April 2022, Smith said 59 percent of their food came from in-kind services, such as emergency aid, and now that total is being offset with purchases by the food bank.

Prior to the pandemic, much of their purchases came from local grocery stores in large quantities, but the last two years constrained that availability, Smith said.

Now with a continued diminished availability of some products, costs are going up as well.

However, state and federal food partners have kept local agencies in the loop, Smith said, and the food bank’s board of directors maintained proactive efforts for advance ordering.

Some stores are allowing them to order some items, such as pasta and pasta sauce, in large quantities, Smith said.

They’ve also doubled contracts for more produce with five local farms: Beanstalk Farm, Chi’s Farm, Joy Farm, Reaume Organic Farm and River Run Farm.

While they’ve done their best to order as much locally as possible, Smith said they’ve made some bulk orders for canned and dry goods out of the area to ensure daily staples are available.

As conditions tighten, Smith said she and the board do not want to reduce quantities to visitors.

“We don’t want to limit the number of times they come, and because the need is rising, we don’t want to reduce [food],” she said.

Since the pandemic, Smith said Sequim Food Bank staff have implemented a drive-through system to minimize potential exposure to the virus, and they’ve continued it because so much food is being stored inside buildings and there’s less space for staff.

She’s set a goal to establish a system so people can park and choose items outside, in person, rather than from their vehicles.

The food bank’s board of directors is in the beginning stages of planning a new storage building west of the existing buildings, Smith said.

She said her hope is that reserves for the storage building won’t go toward making up costs for rising food prices.

Locals have stepped up when asked to help, Smith said. The Sequim-area postal carrier food drive on May 21 brought in about 15,000 pounds of food, their most ever.

“That’s very helpful,” Smith said.

A peanut butter drive is scheduled for Friday through Sunday, sponsored by Price Ford, with volunteers standing at the entrances of QFC and Safeway on Saturday and Sunday, and Walmart on Friday through Sunday.

Smith said monetary donations would help offset increased costs, too, at the food bank’s website,

The Sequim Food Bank, 144 W. Alder St., is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays and from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays and Saturdays. Contact the facility at 360-683-1205.


Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected]

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