Food banks running low in wake of pandemic

A parallel with the current shortage in grocery stores, Whidbey food banks are in need of donations as supplies run low.

Good Cheer Food Bank near Langley may be the first place South End families would turn to for support during the current crisis. Manager Karen Korbelik said the food bank is asking for donations of canned goods, cheese and shelf-safe milk.

Other specialty items, such as gluten-free and non-dairy items, are also in short supply.

“Pretty much anything you could put on your grocery list, we could use,” Korbelik said.

Good Cheer has implemented a few new changes in its food bank. Normally a self-serve system, now volunteers are preparing boxes of food for recipients to take home to help minimize exposure. Recipients need only provide a checklist of the items they would prefer.

People can also opt to shop for a neighbor or friend who can’t make it to the food bank themselves. They need only provide a dated and signed note from the person they are picking up food for.

Korbelik said the food bank needs more volunteers for the new box program, who perform all shopping duties now in addition to other tasks.

“Everybody’s very understanding,” she said. “So far it’s working.”

North Whidbey’s Help House in Oak Harbor also needs more supplies, as it is moving towards a program similar to Good Cheer’s with larger quantities of food being given out to families during school closures.

Starting next month, families will be able to come in twice a month and receive a food basket.

“Kids are going to be home from school and eating them out of house and home,” Executive Director Jean Wieman said.

She added that the food bank could use some cereal, bigger cans of chili and stew. As of Monday, there were no more hot dogs or pork and beans.

Wieman acknowledged they are hard to come by currently, but wet wipes would also be appreciated for people to use.

“We have no plans of shutting down unless we are so directed to do it,” Wieman said.