(From Valley Voice, Thursday, June 29, 1995): A story in Saturday’s Valley Voice referred to the Valley Food Bank by the wrong name. The phone number was also incorrect. The correct number is 928-7769.
It’s summer and Carol Stryker needs more food.
Two of her children are on summer vacation from their Central Valley elementary school, where they’ve received free breakfasts and lunches during the year. Stryker’s third child will start kindergarten in the fall.
During the summer, Stryker, a single parent, needs more milk, cereal, bread and fruit to feed her children.
“It’s probably $150 more” per month, she said while waiting in line at the Spokane Valley Center Food Bank on Wednesday.
Stryker’s not alone. When children come home for the summer, finances get tighter for thousands of families.
“This is a problem universally,” said Linda Stone, the Spokane coordinator of the Children’s Alliance. Statewide, nearly 220,000 children receive free and reduced meals at school, according to a Children’s Alliance report.
This summer, 4,742 Valley children who receive free or reduced meals at school are home, looking in the refrigerator and wondering what’s for lunch.
In Spokane, federally funded programs are in place at city parks, community centers and schools to provide free meals for children during the summer.
And although the Children’s Alliance has tried to help set up programs in the Valley, it’s been tougher to start, Stone said. They’ve had trouble finding sites, such as schools or parks, because there are fewer low-income neighborhoods.
“Poverty is spread out around the Valley. You’re not going to find an area like West Central,” Stone said. “It’s really complicated when you’re not just at a site where kids can just walk in.”
For a site to receive federal funds, half the children in the school or neighborhood surrounding the site have to qualify for the free and reduced program, Stone said. Not having enough low-income children in a concentrated area makes setting up a free meal program difficult, she said.
That’s why all three of the Valley’s public school districts have not applied for the funds.
“We don’t meet the criteria that the feds have established,” said Gary Pannell, food service superviser at Central Valley.
Through a joint city-county effort, free lunches and breakfasts are provided at one Valley park, at Park Road. Breakfast and lunch service for children will begin on July 10, at 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively.
Four years ago, the city Parks Department added Park Road to the “open sites” where free meals are served to children. The city provides the food, and county Parks Department provides workers to distribute it.
The breakfast program is in its second year. Last year, about 30 children were served breakfast five times per week. The lunch program, in its fourth year, accommodates about 50 children.
“Our goal is to extend what they’re doing in the schools during the summer,” said Karen Holmes, a recreation superviser for the city. Anyone age 18 or younger will be served, she said.
Food banks, such as the Valley Center, also alleviate some of the additional need during the summer.
At the center, carts go out the door laden with cereal, salad dressing, French bread and powdered milk. But it’s not enough. The food banks are in place to supplement, not solve, a family’s food needs.
“This stuff that you get probably carries you about one week out of the month,” Stryker said.
Users are only supposed to visit one food bank per month. Aside from the Valley Center, food banks in Spokane, Otis Orchards and at several churches are available to help Valley families. A computer check at the door of the Valley Center’s food bank protects the system from abuse.
The Valley Center’s food bank and others like it are supplied by the Spokane Food Bank, which has systems in place to meet increased summer demand.
For example, the largest food drive of the year, conducted by postal carriers, occurs in May and helps provide food during the summer.
Still, it’s hard for some food banks to keep up with need, said Ann Price, development manager for the Spokane Food Bank. “Families now have kids home all day.”
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: FOOD BANKS CAN HELP MEET NEEDS These food banks are available to help needy Spokane Valley residents: Valley Center Food Bank, 11922 E. First, open Wednesday, 12-3, to be used once per month on a supplemental basis. For information, contact Barbara Bennett at 927-1153. Salvation Army Food Bank, 1403 W. Broadway, open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, 1 to 4 p.m., to be used four times per year on an emergency basis, with at least 30 days between visits. Special assistance available for pregnant or nursing women, or people with health complications. For information, contact Arlene Leipham at 325-6814. Spokane Neighborhood Action Program, 500 S. Stone, open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed 12 to 1 p.m., opens late Thursday, at 10:30 a.m., to be used three times per year on an emergency basis. Current dated proof of address required. Call 456-7110 for an appointment. St. Vincent de Paul Society delivers boxes of food on an emergency basis. For information, contact the social service office at 534-2824. Otis Orchards Food Bank, 4308 N. Harvard, open Tuesday and Thursday, 12 to 2 p.m. beginning in July, only open Tuesday, to be used on a once per month, supplemental basis. Only open to residents of Liberty Lake, Newman Lake and Otis Orchards. Identification with proof of address required. For information, contact Jeanne Grant at 926-3526.
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