Food Bank is Vital to Community

Ava Wolfe & Kately Oquist, Staff Reporter

We often think of the food bank as something very few members need, however this is false. Carla Gastineau is the director of the Arlington Food Bank and her goal is to spread awareness to everyone about what it does, who it is here for, and what you can do to help. With Covid disrupting the usual system, the food bank must take extra precautions while also feeding many more people. 

60% of the community needs the food bank (16% prior to Covid). 130,000 pounds of food is processed and sorted each month. Using what is already there for you helps the community. Not only is the food bank great for the families struggling, it helps us all by helping the environment, which benefits us all. When you take advantage of what is available, you save the money you would be using to put it back into the local economy. 

Gatineau wants to reduce waste and feed the hungry. To do that, anything that is old or can’t be given out goes to pig farmers. Also, for any kids that need it, volunteers make bags of food that include two of each meal. They try to include foods that are easy to prepare for kids like mac and cheese, instant cups, or cans of soup.

They are doing everything they can to protect employees and the community from the Covid-19 outbreak.The building is closed to the public and all carts get sanitized before re-entering the building, they are washing hands and sanitizing much more, and once a volunteers shift has started they don’t go inside. All volunteers wear gloves. If a volunteer changes tasks, they must put on new ones. All of this ensures the best possible safety for the general public. 

To become a volunteer you must be 17 years old or older, unless you have past experience. Some of the jobs of the volunteers include shopping, delivery, sorting food (dependent on category and date), handing out forms, working in the office, packing meals for kids, administrative work, social media, etc. Gastineau would appreciate new volunteers but wants people who understand that they are there “to serve the community and not for themselves.”

Sheralyn Craig is a volunteer at the Marysville food bank and a mother of three boys. In the early 80’s she divorced her husband and was left with very little. They had so little that her and her boys had to walk along the road picking up cans for money. Craig relied on the food bank to put food on the table and learned, and continues, to find ways to stretch what she has. If it weren’t for the food bank that helped her through the toughest times in her life, she may not be where she is today. “To give back,” as she states it, she volunteers every Wednesday in thanks to everything that the food bank once did for her.

Your time can make a big difference in food banking. Spreading the word is the best thing you can do. Anything to get the word out; your social media, a newsletter, sorting food, handing out, volunteering, money donations (the best donation). 

Seven food banks have been closed for three weeks due to Covid and people need this organization. Right now the Arlington Food Bank has about 80-90 volunteers whereas, prior to Covid, they had about twice that each month. In this time of need, we “have an opportunity to turn the stigma around,” says Gastineau, “we are all in this together.”