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Letters to the Editor - Dec. 16, 2013

  • Written by Readers

For the last ten years I’ve been involved in the running of a food bank in Carnation. We feed around 200 families (about 700 people) a week and seem to be one of the very few food banks that serve everyone who comes to our door without question — no ID needed, no must show proof-of-area residence, no personal information required.

We are also one of the only food banks that feed the homeless with no questions asked.

And we are very much an "All You Can Eat" food bank."

Since being founded over 38 years ago, this food bank has operated in several locations in the Snoqualmie Valley, moving to our present building seven years ago.

During all these years of operation this service to the needy has been very generously sponsored by the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe, even when they as a people had nothing, they were always there, supporting this public food bank as a community service. In fact, this food bank was founded by a Snoqualmie Tribal member.

The reason I’m writing this is not to pat the tribe and we volunteers who work here on the back for many years of a job well done — although they all certainly deserve it. The reason I’m writing this piece is that this long-time service to East King County is tentatively ending as we have been told that our funding from our primary sponsor, including the use of our building and truck will cease at the end of this year. We are heart-broken and are searching for a replacement space and funding, but we weren’t given much warning and time is short.

This is a disaster not only for our food bank but more so for the entire Lower Snoqualmie Valley!

We occupy a very critical spot in the whole "help" grid in East King County that many not involved in the system may not be aware of. A large portion of our clients can not (or will not) be served at the other major food banks in the area.

They have been turned away because they can’t meet those food bank’s requirements for Food Bank registration, including a valid current photo ID, proof of current address and residency, (utility bill or bank statement), current income (or lack of income) information. If you do not have the information they request – or even do have the information but don’t meet their requirements — They Will Not Serve You!!!

We ask for nothing – no ID or personal information required.

This food bank was founded on the principle that we would do nothing to impugn our clients’ dignity, self-respect or right to privacy. We are here to help people, not to gather information.

Without us there are very few places in this part of King County that many of these people can go to for help. Of the three large food banks in NE King County: one in North Bend, one other in Carnation, and us (The Snoqualmie Tribe Public Food Bank), we are the only one that has no registration requirements or restrictions. We Feed Everybody!

The others turn people, (who do not meet their qualifications) away. Simply going to their websites can verify this. In fact, both of these food banks send the people they will not serve to us, as they are quite aware we have no restrictions on who we help.

I’m not writing this to put anybody down – I’m not a confrontational or controversial person. However, I will say that my observation is that one of the main reasons for this information-gathering disaster at some food banks is the guidelines, or these food bank’s understanding of the guidelines set up by the USDA Emergency Food Assistance Program, I believe administered in this state by DSHS.

Our food bank has refused to sign up for food assistance because of the qualifying requirements our clients would have to meet. Not only are they intrusive but they make the food bank experience an upsetting and uncomfortable process. Many who come to food banks are already at risk, why make it worse?

Because these food banks comply with what they see as the information gathering requirements that come with signing up for the food assistance (commodities), program, they just go ahead and have everybody who comes into the food bank register, and if they don’t have the information or even do but don’t qualify — Too Bad! No Food For You!

What is not realized is that there is food other than that from food assistance that comes into these same food banks — lots of it!

It comes from groups like Northwest Harvest or Food Lifeline – or maybe direct donations from small businesses and corporations – maybe it’s just a bag of groceries that somebody drops off at a food drive that ends up at that same food bank. These donations are also being kept from those who "Don’t Qualify." I suspect that most people that donate food don’t put restrictions on who gets it. In fact, I’ve been very involved in the food bank thing for quite a few years now, and nobody’s come in to any food bank I’ve been working at yet and made a donation with a list of whom they didn’t want their food to go to.

Here in East King County, just 20 miles from the Microsoft campus, you’d be amazed to know how many people are below the poverty level, but you’d be far more amazed to know how many people live below that!

People who live in old vans and cars in a friend’s back yard – or in the woods – even in tents, and it’s starting to get cold up here.

We help these people – they come to us for food and clothing – no questions asked – no ID or paperwork needed – They can’t get served at other food banks, but you know what? They still get hungry!

Most people aren’t even aware of food banks except on Thanksgiving and Christmas when they show them on TV – but we are here all year … Going Full Tilt!!!

We are HOPE for many of the families we serve … Some are people that get their entire nutrition for the week from our food bank – who because of their situation can’t get help elsewhere in the area … We MUST be here to help them … this food bank MUST survive!

But even if we can’t save our food bank and we are forced to close, this is a wrong in the food distribution system that must be righted.

Fred Vosk, lead volunteer, Snoqualmie Tribe PUBLIC Food Bank

(206) 949-2310

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

http://www.bikesters.com

It’s biting cold outside, even during the daytime hours. Where are we as citizens of Woodinville housing anyone who is homeless, caught out in this cold weather?

There are people out there, perhaps some hiding in parks, or in the woods, without true warmth or even food.

How is it our community has not opened up the City Hall west side door at night with lights and warmth for the homeless?

The PD is connected within the building, and certainly, the on-duty officers are not supposed to be sleeping on the job.

Why can’t we open those doors during this terrible cold snap?

I know the city hall does not have carpets on the floor, but you cannot tell me that it has no heat or lights. We as a community can afford to pay for additional heat, especially if we can pay for a sports field, pay to have art works scattered all over town, pay to have a mural painted on the old brick schoolhouse, etc. We CAN afford to help the poor.

Where is this community in helping to feed these folks, as well.

I do NOT mean just gathering food into bags at churches or grocery stores, as these go to families in need, not to the homeless. We need to organize now and get something going for these people, as well as notify them out in public with signs as to where to go. We must have somewhere, and we can all step up to bat, not just with funds [good though] but with our hands. Christmas has nothing to do with a tree, gifts or shop ‘til you drop; Christmas is a celebration of life and LOVE. Where is love if we cannot love the unfortunate?

I’m 77 years old, fighting cancer and pneumonia but I am so angry with humanity’s indifference during this cold all over, staying awake to pray for those out in it. We show more caring for illegals than we do our own. We need to care about all people, including those unfortunate in our OWN country right now. Times are tough all over the world.

So my question again is: Where are we housing those homeless people caught out in this terrible cold? Where have we designated an eating place for them? Where is our TRUE Christmas spirit? Can you still have a merry Christmas? Let’s try to do something. My part is bringing it out in the open and praying someone will act on it. Let’s HELP!

Diane M. Condon, Woodinville

I would like to commend the exceptional students/softball players from our own Woodinville High School Lady Falcons Fastpitch team for their volunteer efforts recently.

The Lady Falcons, along with coach Dani Weir and assistant coach Mike Dale, took time out of their weekends to provide an unprecedented set of four free clinics designed to encourage girls to play softball.

I would further like to thank Absolute Blast/the Launch Pad for donating their facility for the clinic. Playing softball is a lifetime sport — it encourages team work, sportsmanship, drive and dedication — all virtues exhibited by the exceptional Falcons.

Thank you for showing our girls what it means to be a Falcon and for showing them how much they have to look forward to by participating in high school sports.

Jess Smith, VP Softball, Woodinville Little League

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