Supply chain crunch affecting western Washington food banks

It’s a time of improvising for Otis Pimpleton, Warehouse Manager at the Rainier Valley Food Bank.

“My lettuce and mangoes didn’t come in, so we had to work with apples and bananas,” he said Thursday.

“We really pride ourselves on being able to give our customers culturally relevant food at the right time,” Pimpleton said.

But a week away from Thanksgiving, he’s having trouble finding cranberry sauce.

When he can find specialty products, prices are high.

“I’m looking at getting black-eyed peas for New Year’s, the cases have been 50 bucks that feed 15 people.”

The supply chain crunch is affecting food banks across western Washington.

“We’re seeing increased costs, we’re seeing food less consistently available,” said Linda Nageotte, President and CEO of Food Lifeline, which supplies more than 350 food banks and meal programs.

She says proteins and cooking staples like oils, vinegars and flours are tough to buy, and the stream of donated food is now disrupted.

Food Lifeline’s new cooler and freezer space that opened Thursday will help.

It adds more than 9,000 square feet of space, and means Food Lifeline will no longer have to turn away donations for not having enough room.

“This expansion is helping us to say ‘yes’ every time,” said Nageotte.

Workers are now moving in more food.

“All of this will be full by the end of the day, and it will stay full because it’s our job to make sure folks have access to food every day of the year,” she said.

Food Lifeline and the Rainier Valley Food Bank welcome volunteers and donations.