Orcas Food Bank mid-year updates

Submitted by the Orcas Island Foodbank

Our community has changed in so many ways in the past three months, and we wanted you to know how your Food Bank has changed to respond.

We are now providing food for almost triple the number of clients we served before. We’ve invented new procedures to ensure safety and efficiency for staff, volunteers and clients. Because most of our volunteers and Jeannie Doty, our beloved long-time manager, were in “at risk” categories, we recruited new staff and volunteers. We increased our hours, and most important, everyone who came to our Food Bank got food.

When we got the news in March that we all needed to “Stay Home-Stay Healthy,” we ramped up immediately. We tried several strategies but soon decided we couldn’t operate safely unless we handed out prepacked bags. This caused some BIG changes in everything:

• We needed more space to store, sort and package food, so we started packing in our building AND in the Community Church basement, and handing out bags under a large outdoor tent generously loaned to us by the Orcas Lions Club. Soon the Community Church and Camp Orkila provided us even more space. We are hugely grateful to all three.

• Because of generous donations from the community-funded CERF fund at OICF and hundreds of individuals, we were able to support island businesses by buying bread from local bakers, produce through several local CSAs, and prepacked lunches from island restaurants. To ensure our food supplies during uncertain times, we also sought new sources. In addition to our usual suppliers, we began sourcing some food from the Orcas Co-op, local restaurants, and eventually US Foods, a commercial food distributor. Food Lifeline (a statewide nonprofit that is temporarily replacing Northwest Harvest) has helped us stockpile shelf-stable foods and add more produce, dairy and protein.

In addition to our new manager, Amanda Sparks, we brought on two 3/4-time assistant managers to run the packing operations: Kelly Doty (who has since left to return to her former job) and Molly Donovan. All three have worked long hours each week to see that enough volunteers are available for each shift, that food is ready for volunteers to pack, that bags are distributed in our usual friendly and efficient fashion and that as needs change we’re able to meet them. It is a marathon! Our staff and volunteers have all done amazing work.

What about the near future? We’ve heard from several sources that increased demand is likely to continue through this year and beyond. We feel confident that we are prepared to meet

whatever the future brings and ensure, as much as humanly possible, that we’ll be able to provide food to all residents who need food.

The COVID-19 crisis caused many small food banks in Washington State to close, at least temporarily. We didn’t, because we had a highly effective operation to start with and because our community stepped up with funding, volunteers and leadership to help us through the necessary changes. No one likes hard times, but they do bring out the best in individuals and communities—and you on Orcas came through with flying colors! Thank you!

If you Wish to Give…

• During the COVID-19 crisis, donations to the Food Bank are particularly helpful. This can easily be done by mailing a check payable to OIFB, PO Box 424, Eastsound, WA 97245.

• Or, donate Online through the Orcas Island Community Foundation!


• Or, call OICF at 360.376.6423 and tell them you wish to set up recurring credit card donations to the Food Bank.

Check out our website, www.orcasislandfoodbank.org and Facebook page www.facebook.com/orcasislandfoodbank.

The OIFB Board Members and the families who benefit from your generosity thank you deeply for your continued amazing support.

The Orcas Island Food Bank Board:

Bob Morris, Susan McBain, Margie Bangs, Berto Gándara, Kevin Ranker, Madie Murray, Dennis Hamel, Erik Koehler and Rick Rhoads.

And Our Awesome Volunteers!