PENINSULA - "There is no reason that people should be hungry," said Mickey Padgett-Schmale, site supervisor of the ReachOut food bank in Ocean Park. And with the many resources available to those in need, that should be the case this holiday season.
The ReachOut food bank is just one option for people on the Peninsula who may not be doing so well financially this time of year. As Padgett-Schmale says, not only is it the holiday season, but it is also a bad time of year for local fishermen, who make up a good portion of the population.
November is the peak month for the ReachOut food bank because it's between the end of commercial fishing season and the beginning of crabbing season.
"A lot of times it's people that come to the food bank, but don't come all the time," she said. "We know when Jesse's [Ilwaco Fish] isn't running because we see people that we haven't seen before."
In October, the ReachOut food bank served over 600 families - a total of 1,810 people. The food bank, on average, serves over 550 families per month an average of 14,000-plus pounds of food.
Just like the Ilwaco food bank, operating out of the St. Vincent DePaul's building, ReachOut receives the majority of the food they give from Northwest Harvest, an organization that collects and distributes food to approximately 300 hunger programs in Washington. And with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching next week, Northwest Harvest makes sure that traditional foods are available this time of year.
"They always try to get us turkey hindquarters, so we have that," said Padgett-Schmale, who added that they also get fresh potatoes, onions and apples.
And to help make sure that there is plenty for all for Thanksgiving, Dr. Christopher Melich, a chiropractor in Ilwaco, is sponsoring the first annual Feed the Peninsula Food Drive to benefit the ReachOut food bank. There are food drop off sites all over the Peninsula that will accept donations until Friday, Nov. 21.
Those sites include Melich's office - Ocean Beach Chiropractic in Ilwaco, the Peninsula Senior Activities Center in Klipsan Beach, Sid's Market, Okie's Sentry Market, ShoreBank Pacific, Raymond Federal Credit Union and the ReachOut food bank in Ocean Park.
Padgett-Schmale said that Melich had been wanting to help the food bank for awhile, but didn't originally plan for it to be during Thanksgiving
"He just wanted to do a drive for us, and it just worked out that this is the time," said Padgett-Schmale.
The food bank is also looking for volunteers to help out with the distribution, which they do four days a week, every week.
"We can always use volunteers," said Padgett-Schmale. "We need men, we need men badly for the lifting. We have some volunteers are in their 80's."
That could also mean volunteering some funds towards their operating costs. Even though they receive their food for free and are run by volunteers, it takes $750 per month to pay the rent and utilities. They do get some grants, but mostly that is made up by donations.
Padgett-Schmale also wanted to remind people that there are no requirements to receive food from ReachOut.
"The misconception is that we do have requirements," she said. "You just get in line - that's the only requirement."
People only have to give their name, address, family size and ages - the information is used to qualify the food bank to receive food.
"Not that we get nosy about whose name is on there, but we do have to report our numbers, that's how we get our food - based on the number of people we serve," said Padgett-Schmale.
"For all of us, especially seniors, the medical bills are outstanding. Many are embarrassed [to come]," she related. "We just try to let them know we're all friends there. That's what we're there for - to help the community."
The ReachOut food bank, located at 1405 Bay Ave in Ocean Park, is open Tuesday through Friday every week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday next week, they will be open on Monday and Tuesday at regular hours and closed the rest of the week, resuming regular schedule the following week. For more information call 665-6567.
The Ilwaco Food Bank is open the first and third Friday of every month from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. They will also be open for a special distribution day on Tuesday Nov. 25 to give people another chance prior to the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.