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Church, Second Harvest make food bank mobile

Brendee Glisson stood in the hot sun Friday with her 4-year-old daughter to collect free food from a mobile distribution in the parking lot of the Millwood Community Presbyterian Church.

“It’s kind of a humbling experience, I guess,” she said as she waited.

But she had little choice, she said. The 37-year-old woman was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer two years ago. When chemotherapy made her too sick to work, she was forced to quit and collect disability payments.

Her husband works as a warehouseman and the family has insurance, but her share of treatment cost amounts to tens of thousands of dollars. One treatment alone cost $7,500, Glisson said.

The food, she said, would help. “It’s awesome,” she said. “I think we have a great community.”

At least 100 people turned out for the extra food giveaway sponsored by the church and several Millwood businesses. At least 30 volunteers were on hand.

The Second Harvest food bank brought its refrigerated truck filled with produce donated by producers and wholesalers, including apples from Wenatchee, cherries from Yakima and shallots from Quincy. Families left with a couple of boxes filled with produce, canned goods and other items.

The Rev. Craig Goodwin said the idea was to help struggling families. “It’s a recognition of where the economy is and what the needs are,” he said. (Goodwin blogs about locally grown food on a Web site owned by the Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.)

While some of the people in line said they were not working, others wanted to supplement tight budgets.

Christina McCoy said she and her daughter live on a modest income from her job as a licensed practical nurse. “We get by,” she said.

Anna Northrup said she and her husband moved to Spokane from Missouri to help an aunt with health problems.

Both are unemployed and looking for work. “We’ve got applications everywhere,” Northrup said. She is a waitress; her husband is a cook. “We’ll do just about anything.

“We have three kids that have to eat,” she said. “We can go without a lot longer than they can.”

Garman Lutz, the chief financial officer for Cascade Window, a co-sponsor of the event, said the giveaway would ensure that people would not go hungry.

“You can reach out and touch people and let them know they are important,” he said.

Friday’s food distribution was the third for Second Harvest this week. The others were at West Central Community Center and Ritzville, said Rod Wieber, director of donor and community relations.

The mobile food distributions are in addition to the regular monthly allotments handed out by neighborhood food banks, he said.

As the economy weakened, demand for food from Second Harvest increased from 14 million pounds in 2007 to 16 million pounds in 2008, he said.

Neighborhood food banks reported increased needs of between 10 percent and 30 percent, Wieber said.

Second Harvest recently began receiving food shipments through the federal government’s economic stimulus bill. Washington state is getting $2 million worth of eggs, cheese and turkey breasts. Second Harvest has received 40,000 pounds of eggs and turkey from the program, which will help with client protein needs, Wieber said.