Every Wednesday, the food bank opens at 4 p.m. to serve a variety of clients, from lower-income seniors to struggling families.
The Mead United Methodist Church, 12611 N. Wilson St., houses the food bank at the rear of its fellowship hall.
“If they need us, we are here,” said director Bette Monahan, who has been a fixture at the food bank ever since it opened.
“Sometimes it could be their car broke down and it took all of their money,” Monahan said.
A core group of about 15 volunteers help make the food bank a success, she said. As does the patience of clients like Don Rothrock, who was at the food bank last week to pick up goods for his household of seven. Rothrock said he works as an in-home health care aid on a modest salary.
“It’s very important,” he said of the help he is getting. “This definitely supplements the food we buy.”
He said that many of the items are of high quality such as the chicken leg quarters and frozen beans in last week’s allotment.
“It’s really good,” Rothrock said of the food. “This place does a really good job.”
Monahan said that the food bank thrives with support from churches, grocery outlets and individual donors.
Government commodities that come through Spokane’s Second Harvest food bank are also an important source of help, she said.
The food bank serves about 160 families a month. Clients are allowed one visit per month, and many return monthly.
Since February, 95,000 pounds of food have been distributed.
There is also a clothing bank inside the food bank.
Recipients need to show proof of residence with a current utility bill or other documents to receive the allotments. The requirement helps to make sure that people receiving the food are living in the area.
Each week during the distributions, the church puts on a community dinner.
Monahan, 58, is a para-educator at Farwell Elementary School, which provided a portable classroom as the food bank’s first home.
One of the volunteers she relies on to keep things running smoothly is Dick Kynett, who started volunteering in 2001 at the urging of a neighbor, he said.
Kynett is part of the volunteer work force that goes to Second Harvest to obtain commodities and other products each Wednesday before the food bank opens.
Last week’s packaged beans and chicken were in boxes still frozen waiting to be sent out the door.
“You never know what you are going to get,” he said of the Second Harvest products.
The minimum allotment for food bank clients is 15 pounds, but last week’s distribution offered more than 50 pounds per person, in part because of a surplus of potatoes. The food bank seeks to provide a balance of food types from staples to vegetables.
Volunteer Karen Jose, a substitute teacher at Farwell Elementary, got involved through Monahan.
“She is the best person on the face of the earth,” Jose said. “I’ve never heard her say a bad thing about anyone … I just love hanging out with her.”
Volunteer Vicki Easley said the food bank gave her four children the chance to volunteer.
Easley said that has been an important part of her kids’ upbringing, that “as a community, we’ve got to be there for each other.”
Monahan has six family members at her home, which helps her relate to the challenges facing her client families, she said.
Last week, she was wearing a T-shirt from Camp Mak-A-Dream, a retreat that is open to cancer survivors.
During her treatment for breast cancer about six years ago, she had to stay away from the food bank for six months to avoid any infections.
Volunteers kept things going while she went through treatment, she said.
“I still love coming after 20 years,” Monahan said. “I love the volunteers. I love the clients.”