New director takes the helm at CK Food Bank

Chris Benson took over the role from Hoyt Burrows, also a former sailor, who got the food bank running to the likes of a well-oiled machine

New Central Kitsap Food Bank Director Chris Benson is hitting the top step running. Benson started in his new role on June 2 and has been going full speed ahead ever since.

As a former logistics specialist in the Navy, Benson spent 22 years organizing and managing, much like what’s expected of him now, he said. Benson retired last year from the Bangor base where he focused much of his efforts on environment control and financial management. His new job is what he calls a “second nature.”

“I think it’s a perfect job for me,” he said. “I’m conditioned to serve the community. I get to serve the community and get paid for it.”

Benson said he’s familiar with the benefits that a food bank brings to the community, especially the military community. As a supervisor, he often referred junior sailors with families to the nearest food bank.

“I know the military doesn’t always have the best pay,” he said. “I’ve always suggested assistance to my junior sailors who might run into financial issues.”

Benson took over the role from Hoyt Burrows, also a former sailor, who got the food bank running to the likes of a well-oiled machine. Prior to his retirement, Burrows took Benson around in the community to meet prominent supporters and taught him the ways of management for a food bank.

“I’m not making any major changes,” Benson said of taking over the reigns. Clients can still expect to see a bright smile and a warm welcome when they walk through the door, he said.

But, he noted, “anything I can do to add to the legacy he’s left behind, that’s my goal.”

Like Burrows, Benson plans to leave the military mentality behind in terms of sternness. While in the Navy, Benson also got a taste of what volunteerism is like and received the military’s outstanding volunteer medal as a result. Because of the nature of his work, Benson wants to ensure his volunteers welcome his clients as they go through the shopping experience.

So far, Benson has impressed the CK Food Bank board members with his ability to transition seamlessly into the big-shoes-to-fill position once held by Burrows.

“Hoyt was very beloved,” said Mickey Hall, board member.

But, he noted, Benson has fallen into step with the organization’s goals and staff members fairly quickly. At a recent board meeting, Hall and the others welcomed Benson on board.

“Chris appears to be a great guy,” he said. “I think the whole board was very impressed with what they’re seeing…I think we’re all optimistic he’s going to do a great job.”

As Benson adjusts to his new role, he still has plenty of questions and acknowledges the fact that he doesn’t know it all just yet. In fact, he has a particular person’s number at the ready for any questions he might have.

“I told Hoyt, ‘Hey, your number’s on speed dial,’” he joked. “’And I’ll probably call you as much as my wife.’”