Puyallup Food Bank struggling through lean winter months

Charity: Donations like hygiene products, bar soap and laundry detergent are needed

Special to the HeraldMarch 5, 2014 

The Puyallup Food Bank’s director of operations said February and March are always tough for donations.

But it’s always busy, regardless of the season, Shanna Peterson said.

“We call it the benevolent season,” Peterson said. “The six weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years, we receive 60 percent of all our donations and 60 percent of volunteering inquiries.”

As residents move past the holidays, so do their donations, even though their generosity hasn’t gone away, Peterson said.

“They aren’t aware of the needs of the community like during the holidays,” she said. “The community is still struggling, and we continue to have the need to feed the same amount of families.”

Peterson said the food bank particularly needs hygiene products.

“Food is extremely important — a basic necessity — but so is a bar of soap and toilet paper, shampoo and deodorant,” she said.

Hygiene products are not covered for people who qualify for food stamps, said Peterson, who added she’s amazed when she sees a client’s face light up when they are handed enough laundry soap to do five loads in a washing machine.

“Toiletries represent the foundation for people’s dignity, and when those things are in place, often times other issues aren’t so difficult,” Peterson said. “It is tough when you don’t have the ability to clean yourself.”

The Puyallup Food Bank needs full-size bar soap as opposed to miniature bars. Peterson said a full bar can last a family for a few weeks.

The food bank also needs diapers, especially larger sizes and trainers, Peterson said.

“It is a transitional thing,” she said. “Potty training is difficult, and these diapers are a necessity.”

Peanut butter also is in demand.

“A jar of peanut butter goes in every single bag, and if we run out of peanut butter, I will go out and spend our last dime on it,” Peterson said. “It is pure protein and doesn’t need refrigeration.”

The food bank serves about 1,400 families each month. It provided nearly 1.5 million meals for clients last year, Peterson said.

“The need rises with every year,” she said.

There also is a need for volunteers, particularly during the daytime hours. Volunteers must be 18 or older. There are no weekend or evening shifts available.

“We continue to be grateful to our community for their support of the food bank and for their willingness not to let their neighbors suffer,” Peterson said.

Donations can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at 110 23rd St. SE in Puyallup. For more information, call 253-848-5240.

Joan Cronk is a freelance reporter for the Herald.

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