Future of the Food Bank


Macie Butchart

The Arlington Community Food Bank is at 19118 63rd ave. NE. arlingtonfoodbank.org

The Arlington Community Food Bank has been here since 1981, and Carla Gastineau is the director of this organization filled with generous people who help others in need. It is still going strong today, and there are many plans for the near future due to COVID impacting the global economy. The Arlington Community Food Bank used to have a carefree environment where one could go to The Food Bank comfortably. But since COVID-19 transformed the Arlington community, the Food Bank now serves 60%, in terms of rate, of the Arlington population. 

Now that 60% of the population depends on the Food Bank, the volunteers have to pack more food, which increased by 68%, which makes a mobile truck so useful. The food truck will deliver food to the locations in which more help is necessary, and so they can serve more food and transport it to an extensive population. (Donate to the Food Truck purchase here.)

Gastineau said, “We are planning to get the food truck by next Spring to reach more people. I think it will be a good time to have them.” 

MealsTil Monday packs are more paramount this year than ever. Before COVID, 210 packs were made each week, but since COVID impacted schools all around the community, Meals Til Monday packs increased by 448%. 

Gastineau said, “Meals til Monday is where kids pick up their packs for their families, it includes easy meals to prepare and cook…” The volunteers are now packing 1,000 – 1,200 packs for kids each week.

This enormous percentage makes every employee work harder than ever before. With the virus, there has to be a limited number of people who work in the facility, which means fewer volunteers and staff hands. After COVID dies down, they hope to bring in cold food again. Also, for the future, they want to be less wasteful and not use as much plastic. The first start to not use excessive material is bringing in more volunteers to give out food.

“Prior to COVID, there were 162 volunteers, and that number decreased,” said Gastineau. The current volunteer count now is 80/90 people per month. 

The Food Bank used to be like a grocery store where people could come and pick out their food, but now employees are reserved for handing out food in the parking lot. Because employees and volunteers stand outside in the parking lot to serve food, they would get wet and cold due to the weather in Washington, that is why the food bank is loaning a pop-up tent from the Mayor so they can stay dry from the rain and snow. 

Gastineau said, “There needs to be a new system for winter…” 

Another change is, people do not have to show their ID’s now when they come to the food bank. A lot of people who needed to use the food bank were afraid to show their ID’s because they did not want to be reported using a fake ID. The Arlington Food Bank is trying to create changes to be more like a sanctuary, to make it more comfortable to use. This is why they are planning a rebrand in the future to get rid of the stigma that surrounds the food bank. 

“There seems to be new changes every week,” Gastineau said.