Issaquah food bank offers free summer snacks

June 28, 2011

By Laura Geggel

For some, summer means hunger.

The Summer Lunch Program attracts clients and their children June 21 to the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank, which provided grocery bags of healthy children’s snacks  By Greg Farrar

During the school year, the federally funded National School Lunch Program keeps students fed during the breakfast and lunch hours, offering free or reduced-price meals to children in need.

Once school gets out for the summer, those meals disappear.

Thanks to the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank and volunteers from Eastridge Church, families can get free, healthy snacks for their children every Tuesday throughout the summer, until Aug. 16.

“These families have to make choices between buying meals or paying for bills,” Lindsay Ztyree, an AmeriCorps worker with Eastridge Church, said.

Families must live in one of the following ZIP codes to participate: 98027, 98029, 98075 or 98059, and have proof of address and identification.

Each family can collect one free, grocery-sized snack bag per child. Volunteers have filled them with tasty treats, such as peanut butter, applesauce, Capri Sun juices, milk, bagels, granola bars and pudding packs.

Asa Taylor’s family picked up a snack bag at the inaugural day of the Summer Lunch Program, June 21. The 10-year-old also tossed a football back and forth with volunteers in the park across from the food bank.

“So far, it’s fun because I’m playing football,” he said.

One woman who received a snack bag said she would return the next week to help translate for Spanish-speaking participants, Ztyree said.

“She’s like, ‘I’m being helped, so I want to help,’” Ztyree said.

The idea for the Summer Lunch Program took root after Steve Jamison, lead pastor at Eastridge Church, and his colleagues asked the food bank staff if they could help in any way.

“They had an idea, but they needed people, and we had people,” Ztyree said.

The bank had enough food to make bags of healthy summer snacks for children and teenagers, but it didn’t have the manpower to organize a distribution station complete with fun activities, such as sidewalk chalk drawing, Hula-Hooping and catch.

The church put out a call for volunteers, who packed the snack bags on Monday and handed them out on Tuesday.

During the first distribution, volunteers handed out a list of 101 free things to do in Issaquah as a way to help youths stave off boredom during the summer months, including Pine Lake concerts in the park, building a fort, visiting Snoqualmie Falls or tossing a water balloon with friends.

“Some weeks we’ll put healthy activities in the bags, like jump ropes or pedometers,” Ztyree said.

The Summer Lunch Program still needs activity donations. To help, call the food bank at 392-4123.

“We just wanted to do something to help kids get excited about it every week,” Ztyree said.

Shauna Moller, of Issaquah, got snack bags for all three of her children.

“They get free lunches at school, and I was wondering what I was going to do,” she said, calling herself pleasantly surprised.

Her daughter, 14-year-old Lily Staffen, thanked the volunteers.

“I think it’s nice they’re giving them out, especially to people who are in need,” she said.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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