Helping Hands Food Bank has revised its donation policy and is accepting nonperishable food donations again from private residents.

Last March the food bank suspended private food donations to reduce COVID-19 exposure.

Nichole Long, director of marketing and development at Helping Hands Food Bank, said the change in policy will allow community members who aren’t able to make monetary donations to support Helping Hands.

She said accepting private food donations will also lower the food bank’s cost in acquiring food.

“It’s going to make a huge difference,” she said.

The food bank is serving 6,000 families a week in Skagit County at 13 sites. Long said demand has stayed high throughout the pandemic.

“While we might see the light at the end of tunnel for the health crisis, we are facing an economic pandemic and recovery,” she said. “The first (step) is to address the immediate need for food security, and those numbers are remaining high.”

Helping Hands kicked off the reopening of private food donations with a Stuff the Bus drive-thru food drive on Saturday in the Cascade Mall parking lot in Burlington.

Helping Hands partnered with Skagit Transit to host the event. About halfway through the event, more than 2,000 pounds of food had been donated.

The organization, business or service group that brought in the most food was set to be crowned Community Champion.

Helping Hands is accepting nonperishable food donations by appointment only. Call the Helping Hands operations manager at 360-856-2211 to set up a drop-off time.

The food bank asks the public to not arrive without an appointment or drop-off donations after hours. Appointment times are available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

— Reporter Jacqueline Allison: jallison@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2145, Twitter: @Jacqueline_SVH

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