A Simple Gesture

A Simple Gesture volunteers pick up bags of nonperishable groceries from neighbors helping neighbors.

Rising housing costs are wolfing down people’s income, so they turn to the food bank to put food on the table. The local food bank is seeking more help than ever from the community to fill this need.

Three to five new households sign up at the Stanwood Camano Food Bank every day it’s open for distribution, officials said.

“From the feedback we’re getting from our members, it’s the housing costs. When housing costs increase, the rents go up. It’s wiping them out, there’s nothing left for food,” said Wendy Foster, community outreach specialist.

The food bank is serving more than ever before, more than 1,200 households per month. Last year, it was 856. The food bank distributes weekly now in response to this mounting demand.

“Even though it’s meant to be a supplement, sometimes it’s all that families have. We need donations more than ever,” Foster said. 

Help from neighbors

A Simple Gesture is a food collection program that offers residents an easy way to help their neighbors in need.

A Simple Gesture’s success lies in its simplicity. Food donors sign up and get a “Cool Green Bag.” They buy a little extra when shopping and fill the bag with nonperishables. On the second Saturday of even-numbered months, volunteers pick up full bags and leave empties for next time. Reminders are sent out to participants for each pickup.

A Simple Gesture helps the food bank keep its shelves stocked year-round. When special needs arise, the food bank makes special requests, like cold cereal, pasta and rice meals and spaghetti sauce.

When the shelves are stocked with nonperishables, cash is freed up for strategic bulk buys.

A Simple Gesture has grown exponentially since it started in October 2015 on Camano Island with about 20 donors and 250 pounds of packaged food collected at a time. The program expanded to include Stanwood and Warm Beach. In October, participants gave 8,000 pounds of food to the Stanwood Camano Food Bank.

Need has grown, but so has A Simple Gesture. More than 500 donors have joined the program. About 65 volunteers involved include drivers and helpers, route planners and people who track donors in spreadsheets. 

To join

The next collection is this Saturday, Dec. 14. Register as a food donor or volunteer online at asimplegesture@scfbs.org or stop in the food bank Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Cash donations are also accepted and help with the food bank’s bulk buying power.

Contact reporter Peggy Wendel at pwendel@scnews.com or 360-416-2189.

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