No matter the needs people have within a community, the one firm and repetitive need is food. It is what sustains us, and is truly a basic need. But what happens when times are tough? What do we do or where do we go? For Sumner and Lake Tapps residents (98390 and 98391 zip codes), the resource is the Sumner Community Food Bank located at 15625 Main Street East.
Sumner Community F. I. S. H. Food Bank began during the mid-80s. Over the next 10 years the Food Bank moved from a shed nearby the Senior Center to the Methodist Church. Eventually they relocated to a donated building on Pease Avenue which led to a rented space on Main Street.
The Rotary Club of Sumner adopted the Food Bank as a community project and helped raise funds to purchase prop-erty for a permanent location. Bonds were sold, additional money was raised and legal work was completed to purchase the old Lake Tapps Brewery. Eventually their name was changed to the Sumner Community Food Bank. Boy Scout Troop #172 raised the flag in front of the current building in October of 2002.
The building looks slight from the outside and yet when you walk through the doors it is clear this is a larger space but one that is bursting at the seams. Every inch of space that can be used is being used. Volunteers are bustling around sorting food items, building shelves, re-organizing as needed and always in a state of flux. Their needs are changing as well.
With the economic downturn, more and more families (who never had a need for this kind of assistance) are now coming to the food bank. Presently, the Sumner Community Food Bank is providing support to over 900 families a year...up some 300 families from just a few short years ago. Some months, the numbers are higher still. This means there is a need for more refrigeration space and space in general. Fortunately one aspect of this is being addressed through a grant funded by Puget Sound Energy which will cover the cost and installation of a new walk-in unit. As of this writing, the Food Bank was blessed with a generous donation which has enabled them to purchase that much needed truck. Congratulations!
The Sumner Community Food Bank has two co-leaders serving separate roles. Nancy Johnson has assumed the role of Director of Public Relations and Jan Sanford the Director of Operations. In speaking with Nancy Johnson it is clear things have changed since the economic downturn. There is a stronger desire to reach out to the public for support and to educate those potential supporters of the food bank’s needs.
Sumner High School Student Leaders hold a food drive annually and usually just before the holidays. Local businesses strategically place collection boxes to collect food contribu-tions as well. However, the support doesn’t begin and end with these entities. Each of us can do our part not just through food donations, but through volunteering and making others aware.
Some other accomplishments of the Sumner Community Food Bank include a Food Exchange Program with Northwest Harvest in Yakima, WA. Recently, they took a pallet of 900 lbs. of coffee and returned home with 8,000 lbs. of fruit and applesauce cups. Each Tuesday, the food bank provides community vocational training to students with learning disabilities from the Sumner School District. Wednesday mornings you will find various volun-teers from the Daffodil Valley Women’s Club, who prepare back-packs for the backpack lunch program, as well as local business owners like Paul Qualey from the Bonney Lake Bicycle Shop/Main Street Dairy Freeze. Each have found a way to give back to the Sumner community through the Community Food Bank.
A 501 (c) 3 organization, the Sumner Community Food Bank is a charitable organization and enjoys the support of the City of Sumner and the surrounding community. If you would like to make a contribution to the Food Bank (food or financially), or if you have access to a truck or refrigerated truck that could be donated, please contact Nancy by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Jan at 253-863-3793 or www.sumner-foodbank.com
Editor's Note: Reprinted with permission from the Sumner Downtown Association newsletter. To read the full newsletter, visit www.sumnerdowntown.com and click on the newsletter link.
Laurie Miller is also a Patch blogger. To read her .