PORT ORCHARD — South Kitsap Helpline Food Bank is a busy place year-round. It’s so busy, in fact, that last year more than 1.3 million pounds of food was distributed to local individuals and families in crisis.
Jennifer Hardison, executive director of the nonprofit organization, said that during its operating hours of noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, the food bank serves between 50 and 80 households with much-needed groceries and other supplies. And sometimes during the summer, Hardison said the agency assists more than 100 households.
In order to keep the food bank operating smoothly, Hardison said her team of associates and volunteers revamped how it now operates.
“We decided to change to a self-serve food bank in the spring of 2018 because we feel it is so important that our clients have more choice,” Hardison said.
For clients who need assistance and like beef vegetable soup, while they might appreciate receiving chicken noodle, they’d be happier being able to take some cans of beef vegetable instead if it’s available. Instead of having food items handed over to a client in a bag, they instead can do their own shopping, supermarket style.
“It’s about dignity, kindness and much less food going to waste because people can actually take what they want and need,” she noted. “It’s just a win-win all the way around. Our clients seem to be so pleased with the changes.”
Hardison said that Helpline is in the process of launching a program called “Five to Feed,” which would provide the organization more consistent support throughout the year. The program’s intent is to have people pledge $5 a month to the organization and persuade five friends to do the same.
“Our nonprofit agency receives a lot of support over the months of November and December but the other 10 months are pretty ‘slim-picking,’” the executive director said. “We’d love to be able to expand the support our agency receives so we are able to cover the necessary costs to allow us to help even more people in our community.
“When the food bank’s freezer compressor goes out like it did last week, you can’t pay the bill with day-old donuts! It’s got to be fixed for us to operate effectively. Consistent financial support is critical to our success as a community safety net organization — and it is needed every month.”
Prospective donors wishing to make monthly donations to South Kitsap Helpline can do so by accessing the agency’s website at www.skhelpline.org/give/. Follow the online directions to set up monthly donations to the organization.