ShareNet expands programs in 2014, maintains level of service

The Kingston nonprofit begins its annual Neighbor Aid campaign.

KINGSTON — ShareNet not only added a new program in 2014, it reached a milestone.

While ShareNet’s employees and volunteers were starting the Fresh Look program, the Food to Grow On program that helps feed students from the four Kingston schools broke the 100-student mark.

“That means among the four area schools, 100 school kids are served every week during the year,” ShareNet Executive Director Mark Ince said. Wolfle Elementary School students receive food during summer as well.

The program provides students food to take home on the weekends. The students are identified by school counselors, based on academic performance, participation in the free or reduced meal program at school, or other factors.

Ince said the number of students in the Food to Grow On program will grow throughout the year as relationships are built.

Though ShareNet has reached a milestone, there are many more students on free or reduced meal programs. As of May 2014, 824 students were on free or reduced meal programs at school, according to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

With more students being fed through Food to Grow On, the Fresh Look program was also established. ShareNet began making “large-scale” produce purchases to increase the amount of fresh and frozen food it is distributing. In the past, about 10 percent of the food distributed was produce; that climbed to 30-32 percent, Ince said.

“That was a big leap,” he said. “Glad we can diversify our stock.”

ShareNet continued the partnership with Kitsap Community Resources it started in 2013, providing financial education for adults. The program focuses on helping clients faced with poverty, giving them tools to help them succeed.

Ditto for ShareNet’s partnership with Wolfle Elementary, which “has deepened,” Ince said.

In 2014, ShareNet sponsored a series of parenting education classes. ShareNet paid for instructors and provided food. Ince said the nonprofit is looking to repeat the classes, and possibly expand them, in 2015.

Though still about two months from the end of the year, Ince estimates ShareNet will have provided more than 12,000 service instances — the number of times a person or family is helped. The service instances could be an increase of at least 5 percent over the previous year.

ShareNet is in the midst of its annual Neighbor Aid campaign. The fundraising effort’s main goal is to provide money for day-to-day operations. The annual budget is approximately $150,000. Eight to 10 percent of the budget comes from grants, 5 to 7 percent comes from federal programs, and the rest comes from Neighbor Aid and individual contributions through the year.

ShareNet is a state-registered charity operating under the 501c3 of Bayside Community Church. It operates a food bank and thrift store, and provides emergency food provision, emergency power and rental assistance for residents faced with shut-off notices or eviction, and a weekend take-home food program for school children.

ShareNet’s service area is Kingston, Eglon, Hansville, Indianola, Little Boston, Port Gamble, and some border addresses in Poulsbo and Suquamish.

ShareNet is affiliated with the Kitsap County Food Bank Coalition, the Washington Food Coalition, Feeding America, Food Lifeline, and Northwest Harvest. The purchasing power of these networks helps ShareNet stretch every dollar.

If you have need or would like to contribute to ShareNet as a donor or volunteer, here’s the information:

ShareNet, 6061 United Road, Kingston.

Mail: P.O. Box 250, Kingston, WA 98346.

Phone: 360-297-2266.