Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank feeds kids through summer
July 15, 2014
By Peter Clark
For the third year in a row, the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank is running a program to help feed children during summer vacation.
Program Director Rebecca Rayner said the local organization wanted to give kids the meals often provided by the school system during most of the year.
“We just have to have school-aged kids to enter the program,” she said.
Every Tuesday until Aug. 26, the program will give a bag of food to parents, which comprise enough for five breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Registration is open throughout the summer and children are welcome to sign up and get lunch for the duration of the program.
The effort also works in coordination with Seattle Tilth, which gives instructional sessions about nutrition for the kids.
“They do activities around healthy eating, and a program about eating more fruits and vegetables,” Rayner said.
Falaah Jones, Seattle Tilth’s Eastside Program coordinator, said volunteers and interns have worked hard to bring the information to Issaquah kids this summer.
“We started last year inspired by one of the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank volunteers,” Jones said.
She credited Diane Wenzel, a licensed nutritionist, for coming up with the idea to include the regional food organization. Currently, Seattle Tilth stewards the community garden at Pickering Barn, and all the food grown there goes to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.
“We decided every other week we’ll go hands-on how to make a healthy snack with the kids,” Jones said.
She said they work with a lot of different age groups and have begun partnering with the Issaquah Community Center to expand the program’s activities.
During the average session, Seattle Tilth staff members teach kids how to make a healthy snack, then they read a story to them and encourage them to play a game with teenagers in the community center.
“If they do all three things, then they get a prize,” Jones said.
She said she wants to instill healthy habits in the 30 children signed up for the program.
“We tell them to eat five fruits and vegetables, take less than two hours of screen time, one hour of exercise and no sugary drinks” each day, Jones said.
In the future, she hopes to expand Seattle Tilth’s involvement to every week of the food summer program, rather than just every other week.
The city’s Office of Sustainability has had a hand in welcoming the program, from initially inviting Seattle Tilth to work the community garden to assisting with the summer nutrition program.
Jones said the department has supported Seattle Tilth at every turn.
“We would not be here if not for the Office of Sustainability,” she said.
Though the program increases the amount of food going through the food & clothing bank, Rayner said it did not greatly affect the organization’s bottom line.
“The program doesn’t actually put a big strain on our resources,” she said. “Many churches and donors donate to us, specifically for this program.”
Thanks to donors, the program will continue without threatening everything else the organization gives to the community.
“We haven’t had to buy a thing,” Rayner said. “We’ve done really well.”
Donations for the summer program or the food and clothing bank can be delivered to 179 First Ave. S.E., or donate online.