Serving over 400 people on any given day with 17 satellite locations, the Thurston County Food Bank is always in need of donations and volunteers, said Fran Potasnik, assistant to the director.
Potasnik has volunteered full time at the food bank for the last nine years. She said the work has kept her aware of how fortunate she is.
The holiday season use to be the busiest time of year, but after the economy went downhill it is busy all year, said Potasnik.
Other than the declining economy, an increased growth rate in city population has also cause the food bank to get busier. The food bank found Thurston County’s population was 256,591 in 2011, up from about 200,000 in 2000. The growth rate predicts 376,591 by 2035.
The food bank recently purchased a warehouse on Mottman Road to help alleviate the crowded space in side the downtown Olympia client service center. It will be used for food storage and packaging.
The food bank has expanded throughout the years with their 17 satellite locations in places like The Evergreen State College, Tumwater Fire Department and the Olympia Senior Center.
These additional branches are for people to pick up food. Donations can only be taken to the downtown client service center or specified Thurston County Food Bank drop-off bins. Drop-off bin locations include the Olympia Coop, the Thurston County Courthouse and the Tumwater Library.
Volunteer orientations are held twice a month on Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Potasnik suggested those interested should call first to confirm orientation dates.
During November, the food bank will be giving out their annual Thanksgiving boxes, given out the weekend before Thanksgiving. The boxes will contain dry goods to make traditional Thanksgiving meals. Turkeys are given out the day of Thanksgiving.
Families coming into the food bank often feel insecure, said Potasnik. This feeling has heightened in some customers because of the government shutdown, because people are concerned their food stamps could get taken away, she said.
The food bank has come up with several new ways to better server the population.
A newly received grant this year will allow the food bank to receive leftover food from local businesses and organizations. they will use leftover food from places like Old School Pizza, Olive Garden, Chipotle and Olympia High School to create “TV dinners” to be given out at the food bank, said Potasnik.
The ForKids program was launched in 2008 for the 17,000 homeless youths in the this community. ForKids gives out meals for children to take home on the weekend, when they are unable to get meals from school lunch programs.
The food bank reserves a day each month for just seniors and the disabled to avoid long lines.
There is also a quarterly baby day, so parents don’t have to wait outside in long lines with their children. Baby day also offers more baby products for parents. Last year, the food bank added an extra baby day during the winter holiday season.