‘When we visit the Food Bank, we know almost everyone who walks in the door’

by Rick Rhoads

Orcas Island Food Bank

Do you know an individual or family whose economic, physical, and/or mental health could be improved by nutritional assistance from the Orcas Island Food Bank, but that is reluctant to go, perhaps because they feel ashamed to accept “charity”? If so, please show them this letter that the Food Bank recently received from a family that felt that way — until they came to the Food Bank.

“We are a family of three that have been living on Orcas for five years and like many young, working-class families, we have dealt with all of the common Orcas struggles of finding year-round work, housing, and affordable food.

“Due to the high expenses of basic necessities, we could never get ahead. With the high prices of rentals, for three years our only option for housing was a 100 sqft. space.

“Because of stigmas that are commonly associated with accepting low-income resources, we didn’t use the food bank, until this past summer when we finally felt there was no choice because of our financial situation and mental health and decided to go.

“Once we started going to the food bank, we were surprised and grateful for the high quality of food that was being offered, the support of local agriculture, and the happiness it brought us. It brought us a sense of security to know that we could guarantee our family food every week without sacrificing the quality of food we choose to eat and the quality of food we believe everyone deserves.

“We were also able to use the money we were saving on our grocery bill and apply that towards a rental without the stress of not being able to afford it and subsequently losing our housing due to a lack of finances.

“A surprise that we noticed was when we visit the food bank we know almost everyone who walks in the door. We realized that the food bank is supporting the majority of our working-class community, our friends, our co-workers, our people. This changed our mind from the stigmas of shame to the feeling of pride and the realization that what the Orcas Food Bank is providing is an opportunity to help our community thrive on this island.”