Thurston County Food Bank asking for help during coronavirus pandemic

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Volunteers at the Thurston County Food Bank warehouse are busier than ever.

COVID-19 is increasing the need for food in our community, but it’s also keeping customers from shopping for groceries inside the food bank.

“The upfront bagging and sorting and processing is more of a need than for our normal operation,” said Heather Sundean, Thurston County Food Bank operations manager

Volunteers are filling more than 1,000 bags and boxes every day that they’re sending straight into the community.

Executive Director Robert Coit said the food bank is fighting to get by.

“We don’t have enough people. It’s really hard right now,” he said.

By the end of the month, they could be feeding more than 100,000 people, which is double what the food bank typically serves.

They’re giving food to families in need, providing meal programs for kids, stocking satellite food banks, family support centers and much more. To top it off, there’s less food coming through the front door.

“When you see film footage from a news crew and the shelves are bare, that means the food bank is picking up less food,” said Coit.

The food bank is asking for help.

"Right now cash is truly king. The second thing is we really do need volunteers. Our workforce volunteers are generally older adults who are trying to stay home and shelter in place and do the right things,” said Coit.

Volunteers are allowed and considered essential during the state's stay-at-home order.

"This has added value. I feel safe doing it out here in spite of the virus,” said volunteer Robert Johnson.

Coit hopes others step up so the food bank can keep up.

"This is now back to an emergency food bank for as long as I have to, but not a day longer,” he said.

If you’d like to help, you can contact the volunteer coordinator at 360-754-5703 x105. You can also email gleaning@thurstoncountyfoodbank.org or volunteers@thurstoncountyfoodbank.org.

There are numerous shifts and tasks that are available for people to do.

For general questions call 360-352-8597.