The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Beka Compton
The Times 

Care and Share Food Drive won't stop for a pandemic

Collection bins, in place of doorstep donations, have been placed at businesses around Walla Walla, Waitsburg

 

October 15, 2020

Lane Gwinn

A donation bin is located at Ten Ton Coffee on Main Street in Waitsburg, help fill up.

WALLA WALLA-The Walla Walla Association of Realtors and the Blue Mountain Action Council (BMAC) are kicking off the season with a hunger for helping. The Care and Share Food Drive looks a little different this year, but the cause remains the same.

For more than three decades, the Care and Share Food Drive, which takes place in October, has sent more than 100 volunteers out into the community to drop off orange donation bags on doorsteps. The Association of Realtors and BMAC decided that the bags, which are typically dropped off on a Friday and picked up that following Sunday, weren't the safest option given the current pandemic status.

"Our food Drive committee and the Association of Realtors did not want to skip this year. The Food Bank needs our help more than ever, and we just needed to figure out a way to keep the tradition alive while also keeping each other safe," Scooter Johnson, President of the Board, Walla Walla Association of Realtors and Food Drive Committee Chair, said in a press release. "Without the usual door to door format and participation from schools, it was our job to get creative and I think we've done just that. It's going to be a great year and we hope everyone participates however they can."

This year, instead of going door to door, realtors have set up Care and Share bins at various locations around the area. Two of the bins can be found in Waitsburg: One at Ten Ton Coffee and one set up at Waitsburg Grocery. Bins can also be found at grocery stores throughout Walla Walla and College Place. Donations of shelf-stable foods are happily accepted.

In addition to the Care and Share bins, BMAC is inviting the community to visit the BMAC Food Bank at 921 W Cherry Street in Walla Walla for a 'Reverse Mobile Food Bank.' People who would like to donate and see the workings of the food bank are invited to drive through and drop off donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"Many of our neighbors have never seen the Food Bank operate, and we thought offering a drive-through event where people can bring their families, safely participate in donating and gain some new perspective would be a really good experience for bonding and camaraderie." Tracy Parmer, Director of Development and Outreach, said in a release.

Local realtor Lynne Carpenter said she has spoken to a few of the food bank recipients and was happy to share that they have 'raved about how good the baskets are.'

"They come with the things you expect, like canned goods, pasta and potatoes," Carpenter shared. "They also said they come with fresh produce and milk and butter, sometimes eggs. It's a pretty remarkable system."

Carpenter shared that BMAC accepts fresh produce at its warehouse on Cherry Street, but they cannot take them at the donation bins.

"Pantries are becoming a thing of the past, so this concept of donating from your pantry or donating your extra is becoming problematic," Carpenter said. "People don't necessarily have a big pantry to donate from." Scooter Johnson had a solution for those who don't have a ton of food storage by adding an online monetary donation option. With their bulk buying power, BMAC can turn a $1.00 cash donation into $6.00 worth of food. Visit http://www.bmacww.org for monetary contributions.

"Instead of donating a $1.00 can of tomatoes, BMAC can take a dollar and buy a whole case of tomatoes," Carpenter said. "It's pretty neat."

The Blue Mountain Action Council assists five food banks in Walla Walla County and food banks in Columbia, Garfield, Asotin, and Franklin counties. Currently, pantries are feeding five percent of Walla Walla County residents and ten percent of Columbia County residents. If food donations are not in your books, BMAC needs volunteers at the Grocery Store Outreach booths on the weekend of October 16.

In response to the increased demand, BMAC currently runs six drive-through food distributions locations in addition to supplying food pantries across five counties. For more information on BMAC's food programs, visit http://www.BMACWW.org.

 

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