Helping Hands

Helping Hands Solution Center will distribute food at the Food Pavilion in Sedro-Woolley instead of at the nonprofit’s facility.

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — The Helping Hands Solution Center will distribute prepacked food boxes in the parking lot of the Food Pavilion starting Monday.

This comes two days after Helping Hands, the county’s largest food bank, announced it would be suspending operations at its Sedro-Woolley facility to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The nonprofit is adopting a drive-through model, according to a news release. Clients will pull up and open their trunk, and volunteers will load a box into the car.

Clients without cars can pick up food boxes, and volunteers will enforce social distancing rules.

Food will be available at the Food Pavilion from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, the release states.

At a time when food security is especially important, food banks become more essential to the well-being of the public, and the resources of food banks need to be protected, said Nichole Long, director of development for the nonprofit.

“We’re more than a charity right now,” Long said. “We’re an essential service.”

She said the nonprofit had seen about 10 percent increases in the number of people seeking food each week since late February, and she expects the increases to continue in light of Gov. Jay Inslee’s order to close bars and restaurants.

The nonprofit will also be expanding its role in food delivery programs.

This new distribution model will also apply to Helping Hands’ partners in Marblemount and Anacortes, the release states.

People with emergency food needs can call Helping Hands at 360-856-2211, and the nonprofit will be updating its Facebook page — facebook.com/HelpingHandsFoodBank — with the most recent information.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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