One of the hardest things those of us who work in non-profit human services have to do is go to the public and ask for money. However, since we are non-profit, we have to depend on others for the funds we need. We have fund-raisers and we have some who always give when they can. And, of course, around the holidays we are always blessed with extra funds that are used to make those holidays better for our clients.

Our problem is, the rent goes on; the utilities go on; and the clients' need for food not only goes on, but grows. We have cut our budget to bare bones and our volunteers buy many of the day-to-day items that are needed for our operation. We are currently budgeted for $650 per month.

A little about ReachOut Food Bank. We currently have three food programs, and a fourth which operates only during the summer. They are:

1. Emergency Food Assistance Program. This program is available to all our clients. We receive food from Northwest Harvest in Seattle and from our warehouse, Grays Harbor and Pacific County Food Distribution Center in Hoquiam, once a month. When fresh produce or extra food is available at the warehouse, our volunteers will go for it. Volunteers also pick up fresh bread and fresh produce at Bev's Pantry in Warrenton each week. These foods are distributed every day we are open.

2. The Emergency Food Assistance Program. This program is available to those who meet the state and federal income guidelines. This program is commonly known as commodity foods. This food is provided by the state and federal food programs and is received once a month. We distribute this food on a daily basis also.

3. Commodity Supplemental Food Program. This program began approximately two years ago as a pilot program of the WIC program. ReachOut Food Bank is the only participating food bank in Pacific County. CSFP provides additional commodity foods to children from their fifth birthday, when their WIC expires. It also carries post-partum mothers for an additional six months, and it provides food for low-income seniors over 60 years of age. All the participants in this program must prove their age, income and proof of Pacific County residency. This food is distributed to participating clients once each month.

4. Seniors Farmers Market Nutritional Program. This program provides fresh produce, during the summer months, for low-income seniors. Funding is provided through a grant from Olympic Area Agency on Aging. ReachOut Food Bank has participated in this program for the past two years, and preparations are being made to participate again this year. At this time, ReachOut Food Bank is the only food program in Pacific County to participate in this program. We distributed fresh produce to approximately 300 seniors per month.

As some may know, we served the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula for many years at the Peninsula Assembly of God Church. Over two years ago we found we had outgrown that location. While the church was eager for us to continue there, we had run out of storage space for the amount of food necessary to serve our clients. It was also becoming evident to us that there were those who needed help, but could not get to the food bank on the two days we were open. The decision was made to move to another location, and to be open four days each week. This also meant ReachOut Food Bank would have to begin paying rent and other expenses. Last year we moved again when our current location became available at a cheaper rent.

All those who work at ReachOut Food Bank are volunteers and strive hard to keep expenses at a minimum. These 30 dedicated people donate an average of 500-plus hours each month to keep the food bank operational.

In April 2004, we distributed 20,300 pounds of food to 634 families consisting of 1,711 individuals. Since July 1, 2003, we have distributed 188,656 pounds of food to 5,740 households consisting of 16,447 individuals. During the previous year, July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2003, ReachOut Food Bank distributed 201,891 pounds of food to 6,589 households consisting of 17,647 individuals.

We receive both frozen foods and fresh produce and bakery products. In order to store these items, we operate 16 freezers and five refrigerators. Some of the foods we receive are in bulk packaging and have to be broken down into family sizes. We purchase food quality bags for this purpose. While we are able to purchase the bags at cost, we use about 2,000 or more during one month.

If you would like to visit ReachOut Food Bank at any time, please feel free to do so. We are open Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 1405 Bay Avenue in Ocean Park, next to the Eagles Aire Office.

If you would like to contribute to help us continue to serve the communities of our Peninsula, our mailing address is: ReachOut Food Bank, P.O. Box 907, Ocean Park, WA 98640.

Robert "Olie" Caldwell, Patty Caldwell, Peggy Martin, Mickey Padgett-Schmale, Mike Renfro and Donna Simonson

ReachOut Board of Directors

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