Food bank wins award, receives donation

Island bank praised for good work

The Vashon Maury Community Food Bank won a $5,000 award from Food Lifeline for creating a way for its clients to sign up for subsidized health insurance and other services while stocking up on goods at the small food bank at Sunrise Ridge.

People who attend the food bank can now apply for Food Stamps, Basic Health and other public benefits, thanks to a collaborative relationship food bank staff established with a public health office in West Seattle.

Food Lifeline praised the organization for undertaking the effort, noting that providing such services is imperative in a rural place like Vashon, where some clients might not be able to afford the cost of multiple ferry trips into Seattle to sign up for programs.

The partnership with the public health office also means its employees will track Islanders’ efforts to obtain benefits, helping to ensure they don’t get lost in the often complex world of public benefits.

“We’ve made these programs much more accessible to anyone on Vashon, and that’s a big deal,” said Yvonne Pitrof, the food bank’s executive director. “There’s no government office on Vashon to do that.”

In a news release, Food Lifeline called the Vashon food bank’s efforts “winning best practices” and “exemplary approaches to ending hunger.”

Pitrof said it was fantastic to be in a room of her peers when the award was announced.

“It’s great to do good work and feel good about it,” she said. “And then it’s really great to be recognized for it.”

— Leslie Brown

Sawbones gives $1,500

Sawbones donated $1,500 to the Vashon Maury Community Food Bank, after its 125 employees opted for a potluck monthly meeting instead of their usual catered meal.

“We have a company luncheon at the end of every month, and we normally provide a lunch for the whole plant,” said Sawbones co-owner Foss Miller. “One of our employees, Tom Porro, said, ‘Why don’t we have a potluck, and donate the money we’d normally spend on that to the food bank?’”

Employees were supportive of the idea, and the company did so, holding a potluck lunch meeting on April 30. Miller said the event was “wonderful.”

“There had to be 15 different crock pots, spicy almond chicken, baked beans, macaroni and cheese,” he said. “Everybody brought their favorite thing, and we all had a little of each.”

He said the food bank was a deserving recipient of the funds, and that Porro’s idea was a “brilliant” one.

“It couldn’t be a better time do do something like this,” Miller said. “I’m sure that in these economic times, the food bank needs every resource they can get.”

Food bank executive director Yvonne Pitrof said the money from one of the Island’s biggest employers is a welcome infusion of funds at a time when food bank patronage is up.

“It’s a great move on their part and was very encouraging,” she said. “I think it’s very generous.”

— Amelia Heagerty

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