FISH is both a food bank and a food pantry. The two are not interchangeable so we asked our Warehouse Manager John Poyner to help explain the distinction.
A food bank acquires large quantities of food and stores it for distribution to food pantries. The current FISH Food Bank warehouse is 2340 square feet and is often at capacity.
The food comes from multiple sources. For example, FISH routinely receives large donations from donors like Safeway, 2nd Harvest and trucking companies who for one reason or another need to offload fresh and frozen items. Often times it will be multiple pallets of food arriving at one time.
As the Food Bank in Kittitas County, FISH also receives all of the government commodities in bulk. We allocate the portions that go to the five food pantries in the county. We arrange for pick-up or delivery to these pantries to insure inventory for distribution. If for some reason the pantries cannot accept the amount of food allocated to them, FISH stores it and distributes it. This is why FISH needs a large walk in cooler and freezer, and warehouse.
FISH is also the lead contractor with the state for reporting, billing, inventory and administration of the EFAP and TEFAP programs. All the pantries in Kittitas County are subcontractors to FISH, including our own pantry.
A food pantry is the location families, individuals, veterans, disabled and senior citizens come to get food when they need it. Some pantries use a client choice program, others make up boxes of canned and boxed goods and then let the clients pick out their own fresh and/or frozen food when they come into the pantry. Most pantries limit clients to 2 visits per month. Clients are asked to fill out a form in order to receive the TEFAP food. This form is used to determine demographics and economic information in order to inform the government how much food is needed in our county. The information collected is what the USDA has deemed necessary for the program.
When FISH receives donations from groups and individual donors, those feed our local community and are distributed right here at our own pantry. For instance, Rotary’s Operation Harvest donated 6000 pounds of food last November and annually their Munch Madness Food Drive raises 15,000-20.000 pounds of food. School groups, businesses, sports entities and individuals donate to the food bank as well. All items donated to FISH benefit FISH clients.
At FISH, we are a client choice pantry. Our clients receive from 75-95 lbs. of food per visit. This includes, donated fresh, frozen and shelf stable items and government commodities. We love to be able to nourish our community this way! The state average is 17.9 pounds and Kittitas County averages 25.6 pounds per visit so FISH is proud to be able to do more for our clients!
Food Banks in Kittitas County:
Food Pantries in Kittitas County:
Hope Source Cle Elum
Upper County Community Church in Easton
Kittitas Neighborhood Pantry in Kittitas
Apoyo in Ellensburg – This pantry does not participate in the TEFAP commodities program.
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