HAMILTON — Helping Hands Solution Center has taken over the Hamilton Food Bank to keep the community resource from having to shut down.

Thanks to this partnership with the county’s largest food bank, services will continue for the 200 to 225 Hamilton-area families relying on food assistance each week.

Hamilton Baptist Church Pastor Ron Edwards has overseen the food bank since 2003. But as he planned his move to Texas, he realized his volunteers weren’t prepared to take over operations.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen to this thing,” he said, adding without a partner the food bank would have had to close.

He said assistance from Helping Hands is a godsend to the community of Hamilton, which is in the process of recovering from last week’s flooding.

Rebecca Skrinde, executive director of Helping Hands, said it was an easy decision to help out in Hamilton, and support this vital community resource.

An hour after distribution started Tuesday, volunteers had provided food to more than 100 families, and with Thanksgiving coming up Skrinde was expecting plenty more families to show up.

“We’re prepared to serve 300, but there’s no predicting it,” she said.

The nonprofit is the county’s largest food bank, and in recent years formed similar partnerships to run food banks in Anacortes and Marblemount.

Skrinde said her team is looking to bolster the services available at the food bank, with plans to offer residents help signing up for benefits or other nonprofit services.

“Once you get east past (Helping Hands in Sedro-Woolley), there’s not a lot of resources,” she said.

The volunteers who help at the food bank are staying on, making it easier for Skrinde and her team to keep it running.

Edwards said he will miss the food bank, but was glad to see it in good hands.

The Hamilton Food Bank formed in response to flooding in 2003, Edwards said.

He said it’s encouraging to know the food bank will be in place to help residents through this and future floods.

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

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