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Spokane Valley City Council approves funding boost for food bank

UPDATED: Tue., March 31, 2020

After Spokane Valley Partners lost support from many churches, restaurants and grocery stores, the Spokane Valley City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to award the food bank $25,000 to serve a growing number of people out of work due to closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cal Coblentz, CEO of Spokane Valley Partners, said the organization normally receives about 20% of its food from grocery stores and restaurants, which have stopped sending food as people shop more than they normally do and restaurants close to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. He estimated the need for food has also increased by around 20%, with more people coming into the food bank and new deliveries for those who are unable to leave their home.

The agreement the City Council approved will require Spokane Valley Partners to send monthly reports on how they’re spending the money. The organization also is eligible for an additional $25,000, which the council also has to approve. The city already provides some funding for Spokane Valley Partners, and these funds would be an additional award.

Councilwoman Linda Thompson, who spoke in support of the additional funds, said she appreciated the organization adding drop-off services for the many people who can’t leave their homes, but said it was also important to support them because they are usually the first stop for anyone in need in Spokane Valley.

“In our community, many folks think of Spokane Valley Partners first for help, and even if they don’t have the resources directly there, they’re able to send people to the right place,” she said.

Coblentz said if the demand for food continues to increase and the supply continues to decrease, the food bank may have to make decisions about reducing what it offers. He said the city funding will allow the food bank to offer the same services and deliveries.

“This gives us confidence that we can continue to say ‘yes’ to the need and not worry about where we’re getting with our reserves and do we need to stop staving back our support,” Coblentz said.

Spokane Valley Partners is also one of several local food banks in desperate need of volunteers.

Many of the people who volunteer the most – retirees – are most at risk of complications from COVID-19 and are no longer volunteering. Coblentz asked younger people who may have time, even if once or a few hours a week, to consider volunteering at the food bank.

People interested in volunteering should email or call the food bank’s main line at (509) 927-1153.

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