Thousands turning to food bank for help

“There’s a food bank near here?”

That’s the question several people asked the volunteers from Holy Disciples Catholic Church at a recent food drive. They were told the drive was for a food bank located about one mile from where they were.

The food went to the Graham-South Hill FISH Food Bank at Holy Disciples, located near the corner of 187th and Meridian. Although the food drive at the nearby Fred Meyer store lasted only five hours, it brought in 1,500 pounds of food, 60 pounds of non-food items, and almost $500 in cash donations.

The food bank serves about 5,000 people a month, according to Julie Wiesen, its director. Every month there is an increase. The people served cross every age group. A lot of seniors are having trouble making their pensions cover their expenses. They make up the fastest-growing group.

Developmentally disabled and physically disabled people need easy-to-fix meals. Some of the people are in combined households. Friends who cannot afford to live alone move in together. They still need help putting food on the table. Some children come home to an empty home because their parents are still at work. They also need something to eat that is easy to fix. The homeless also come in for assistance.

Although Holy Disciples Catholic Church had the building the food bank is in specially built, anyone can receive food there. They need to be a resident of Pierce County and meet the financial requirements. When they come in, they need to bring identification and proof of address. They also need identification for every member of their household, including children.

The food bank, part of the FISH Food Banks of Pierce County network, is open on Mondays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m. It’s always in need of peanut butter, canned fruit, fruit juice, and easy-to-cook items such as stew and soup. Wiesen noted the food bank can always use money to buy food. And all food donations need to be non-perishable.

A lot of churches donate to the food bank. It also receives donations from stores and the government. Schools have helped out with food drives.

Holy Disciples keeps a food donation box at the back of its worship space. Non-members of the parish can walk up to any church greeter and hand them a donation before any church service or drop off a donation at the parish office during regular office hours. Checks (payable to the Graham-South Hill FISH Food Bank) can be mailed to the Holy Disciples business office at 10425 187th St. E., Puyallup, WA 98374.

About 60 people volunteer at the food bank. Wiese said she can use more people. They stock shelves, assist patrons, break down bulk food, and get the food ready. Wiese has a special need for someone to go pick up food. To offer to help, call Wiese at 253-846-3805 or stop in when the food bank is open.

To get to the food bank, take Pierce Transit bus 204 to the corner of 187th and Meridian. By car from Puyallup, drive south on Meridian, turn left at 187th. From Graham, turn right at 187th and Meridian. Follow the curve about a quarter of a mile and take any left turn in the Holy Disciples parking lot. The food bank is at the north end of the campus.

About the writer: Nora Schindler is a member of Holy Disciples Catholic Church in Graham.

Graham-South Hill FISH Food Bank volunteer Nancy Larson helps clients at the food bank’s location at Holy Disciples Catholic Church. (Jim Bryant/Senior Scene)
Graham-South Hill FISH Food Bank volunteer Nancy Larson helps clients at the food bank’s location at Holy Disciples Catholic Church. (Jim Bryant/Senior Scene)