Fishline executive director Lori Maxim shows where delivery packages are staged.

Bellringer: Fishline shifts to serve needy families during pandemic

Fishline has been serving needy families in Poulsbo for over 50 years, and this year its services have been needed more than ever – even if they have had to be modified due to COVID-19.

Its food bank and services like the Christmas Child Stocking Fund are helped, in part, by the Lions’ Bellringer fundraiser.

Like most places, Fishline has had to shift its operating systems to follow state coronavirus-safe guidelines. At the start of the pandemic, it shut down its food bank and developed a by appointment drive-up model for folks to get their food and other necessities.

“We have a very different model now because our space is so small, and we are not able to social distance in the market itself,” Fishline executive director Lori Maxim said. “Our model now is by appointment, and it’s a drive-up model. So clients sign up and register and they have a certain day and time they come each week.”

Fishline completed its new facility on Viking Avenue in the fall of 2018 and made a point to model its food bank after a typical grocery store and allow clients to shop with that same kind of independence. Since the statewide shutdown in March, the market has been closed to the public, but every inch of space has been used for storage of food and personal items.

Now volunteers will go in and “shop” for families, depending on what they need and how much. Many of the essentials are pre-packaged in paper bags, which are then placed in their cars.

A section of the market is set up for Fishline’s delivery drivers, who will take packaged food to those who are elderly, sick, or don’t have transportation.

“During the warmer months, we had an outdoor produce stand that allowed people more freedom to choose what they wanted,” Maxim said.

Maxim estimated that Fishline has been serving 80 to 100 families a day, not including the hundreds of home deliveries that are happening as well. She noted that there are concerns about keeping up with demand should the state go back to a full shutdown.

“We actually had a staff meeting today where we talked about you know, what are we going to do should this happen again? How are we going to be safe but also still help people and also keep things supplied?” Maxim said.

Much of the Lions’ Bellringer money that Fishline receives goes towards purchasing food for the food bank, most of which comes from local grocery stores like Safeway, Central Market, and Walmart.

“About a month ago we ran out of eggs. So I went to Central Market, and they gave us a really great value on them, and we bought about 80 dozen eggs a day for a couple of weeks,” Maxim said.

While the food bank is Fishline’s primary function, it has other programs and services, too.

For instance, this time of year is when it would be kicking off its Christmas Child Program, in which folks could purchase gifts for kids in need that would otherwise not get much if anything for the holidays. But again, because of COVID-19, Fishline has had to change the operation.

Now, instead of purchasing a gift, Fishline is asking folks to donate to the Christmas Child Stocking Fund on its website fishlinehelps.org/get-help/children/christmas-child/. The fund will be used to purchase a $100 gift card from Walmart for families to use to do their own Christmas shopping for their children.

You can learn more about how to donate to Fishline by visiting their website at http://fishlinehelps.org/get-involved/donate/.

Donations

Jay and Sandi Dahlquist, $1,000, in memory of Sonda and Sandy.

Brenda and William Houser, $100.

Dennis and Candy Peters, $100.

Michael and Brenda Rzonka, $400.

Anonymous, $100.

Total for the week, $1,700.

A Fishline volunteer helps unload a truck full of food from Walmart.

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