Food bank donations have slowed, but need hasn't

Bellingham HeraldFebruary 14, 2011 

Suzanne Nevan, the new director of Ferndale Food Bank, saw the man standing in line for food. He was clean-shaven and well-dressed, but kept his eyes down, as if studying his polished shoes.

When she asked if he needed help, his hands began to shake and sweat appeared on his lip.

"He said, 'I can't believe I'm here,'" Nevan recalled. "Two years ago, I was writing checks to support the food bank."

At Project Hope Food Bank in Lynden, Jim Grennell, executive director, said more people wearing nice clothes and driving nice cars are coming for food. Some of them know Grennell because they used to donate to Project Hope. Now they ask him how to sign up.

Sometimes, they ask if he will help them after-hours.

"There are hungry people," Grennell said, "even in Lynden."

At food banks across Whatcom County, the number of people seeking food has spiked since the Great Recession began in late 2007. Over the same span, food donations have slowed, although cash donations have held firm at Bellingham Food Bank, said Mike Cohen, executive director.

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