Early in June, Food $ense visited Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank in North Bend in partnership with the Department of Social and Health Services Mobile CSO unit. The Mobile CSO gives residents in more rural areas of the state access to services that would otherwise require a trip to the nearest city. The Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank also provides a much needed service to the upper Snoqualmie Valley. Executive Director Heidi Dukich says one of the most important roles of the food bank is to help people feel connected to their community—in as many ways as they can.
Like many food banks across the county, Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank offers more than just food. In the office next door, Heidi and volunteers help clients access other resources. In addition to regular visits from the Mobile CSO unit, the food bank is also partnering with Washington Connection to provide clients with a way to sign up for programs like SNAP and WIC without having to ride a bus to Bellevue all day. Sometimes it’s not just the resources that become an important connection for food bank clients. Heidi says a compassionate listener can be just as important for many people as an application for benefits. “We try to connect people to their community. You’re part of this and we’re here to help each other out…if you hit a roadblock, we can help navigate around it,” she says. It’s important to make the food bank and other community resources as user-friendly and approachable as possible, for clients already feeling isolated and disconnected.
That philosophy is reflected in the food distribution side of the food bank as well. Volunteers recently created a “Meal in a Bag” for each client by pre-packing all of the ingredients needed to make a meal into one bag. Heidi notes that it’s a great way to give people new ideas for preparing something that they might get often at the food bank, and it takes the work out of figuring out what’s for dinner. The food bank also provides recipes and other meal ideas when they can, and Food $ense is looking forward to visiting again in the future!