Talk of Newt Gingrich-led Republicans stealing kids’ lunches has Carol Craft gearing up for a famine.
Craft runs the Harmon Community Center and its food bank in Airway Heights, where 330 people a month are being served.
If school lunches and other nutritional programs are eliminated or cut back by Congress, community food banks such as this one will be drained.
“It’s going to be a serious problem,” she said Tuesday.
Luckily, she said, the Spokane Food Bank, which mostly feeds her satellite facility, is planning some fund-raisers.
A Spokane restaurant is coming to the rescue, too.
Clinkerdagger Restaurant, in the Flour Mill at 621 W. Mallon, is donating $1 from selected menu items to the Spokane Food Bank. Clinkerdagger’s goal is $10,000.
“With the homeless, you see their faces on the street. But with hunger, it’s a hidden issue. We hope to bring it out into the light,” said Jenny Masters, Clinkerdagger general manager.
Clinkerdagger’s corporate owner, Restaurants Unlimited of Seattle, has joined forces with Washington, D.C.-based Share Our Strength. All 25 of the chain’s Northwest restaurants are participating.
Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger group, estimates 20 million Americans don’t get enough to eat.
In Spokane, 13,000 residents - about half of them children - are served by the food bank each month.
Every dollar raised by Clinkerdagger will go to the Spokane Food Bank, which provides emergency food through 22 community agencies.
“If we can’t end hunger, we at least want to alleviate it better,” said Food Bank development manager Ann Price.
In Airway Heights, Carol Harris, 51, and Tim Noon, 36, are among the thousands of residents who have received emergency food through the Harmon Community Center.
Harris had to quit her job because of a heart condition that requires $217 worth of medication each month.
“If there are government cutbacks, it’s going to cause such a crisis, you’re going to have people rioting in the streets,” Harris said.
Airway Heights Mayor Don Harmon, for whom the community center is named, took over the crumbling food bank in the late 1980s and ran it out of his garage.
Now he’s helping build a new facility. It’s been a long climb, and he doesn’t want to trip on federal red tape.
“Hunger is a problem everywhere,” Harmon said. “Quite frankly, there are people out there who buy a case of beer instead of feeding their families. That’s one of the realities of life.”
People can help by donating food or by eating at restaurants participating in Share Our Strength’s campaign.
Clinkerdagger is the only Spokane restaurant that is participating so far, Masters said.
Until May, the restaurant will donate $1 off its early bird specials - entrees, soups/salads and desserts offered from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.
After the restaurant’s menus are reprinted in May, a dollar will come off certain items offered at other times.
“We don’t want just the money,” Masters said, “but we want to educate our own people and guests, anyone who will listen to our story and help make a difference.”