Food bank relies on community to help others

by BERIT OLLESTAD Contributing Writer
| November 20, 2020 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — When Litehouse offered to sponsor a food drive, it was a blessing, Debbie Love, Bonner Community Food Bank executive director, said.

In the past, local retailers were able to supply food to help the food bank hit its quotas. But they’re struggling now, too, and the food bank has had to outsource many non-perishable items. That has meant higher freights costs that the food bank has had to absorb.

In any given year, the food bank distributes half a million pounds of food to the community. In this year of COVID-19, the nonprofit is on track to more than double that amount. 

The food bank is at 900,000 pounds and counting as the winter months approach.

More help is needed to keep the food bank going. Among the struggles the organization has faced during the pandemic is the cancellation of all its fund-raising events.

As the pandemic unfolded last spring, demand increased by 30 percent over the prior spring.

Typically, demand decreases in the summer months. But with COVID-19 cases again on the rise, Love is concerned about meeting the community’s needs going forward into the holiday season.

Holiday donations are greatly appreciated, Love said, adding that she hopes people will continue their generosity through the leaner months afterward.

There’s always a continuous need for items such as

• Canned meats

• Single serve cans of soup

• Peanut butter

• Feminine hygiene products

• Toothpaste

One pandemic bright spot: Folks are starting to grow their own food and plant gardens. 

The food bank challenged the community to plant gardens to help support healthy eating and this resulted in donations of nearly 200,000 pounds of produce. This is double the amount the food bank normally receives.

These donations come as needs are growing and changing. For the first time, the food bank is serving more seniors than children.

“It’s heart-breaking to see the number of seniors that are coming in that are in rapidly declining health,” Love said. 

Pre-COVID, the food bank served approximately 1,600 families per month. The organization anticipates the monthly figure will soon top 2,000 families.

In September, the food bank celebrated paying off the mortgage on its building. But because of the community’s urgently expanding needs, Love is looking for a larger facility.

The food bank also is helping the Lions Club with its Toys for Tots drive, while distributing winter jackets to local kids as well.

"We live in a special community and it's nice when you can see the giving come full circle. We just recently had a former recipient of the food bank donate close to $900 worth of food in an effort to repay what was so freely given to her,” said Love.

Donations are accepted at the food bank between the hours of 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. The food bank is located at 1707 Culvers Drive, Sandpoint.

Information: 208-263-2663

photo

(Courtesy photo)

In any given year, the Bonner Community Food Bank distributes half a million pounds of food to the community. In this year of COVID-19, the nonprofit is on track to more than double that amount.

photo

(Courtesy photo)

In any given year, the Bonner Community Food Bank distributes half a million pounds of food to the community. In this year of COVID-19, the nonprofit is on track to more than double that amount.

photo

(Courtesy photo)

In any given year, the Bonner Community Food Bank distributes half a million pounds of food to the community. In this year of COVID-19, the nonprofit is on track to more than double that amount.

photo

(Courtesy photo)

In any given year, the Bonner Community Food Bank distributes half a million pounds of food to the community. In this year of COVID-19, the nonprofit is on track to more than double that amount.