Mobile food bank: Bringing the harvest out

Week by week, a trailer bears help to hungry where they are

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor


photoLewis River Mobile Food Bank volunteer Denise Wilder works in the organization's trailer Sunday, helping a client. The food bank, which travels to four sites each month, was at Fire District's 10 Station 3.

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Lewis River Mobile Food Bank schedule

The monthly rotation of locations; open 2 to 4 p.m. at each site:

• First Sundays: View Fire Station, 37604 N.E. 119th Avenue, La Center.

• Second Sundays: Fire District 2 station, 314 N.W. 389th St., La Center.

• Third Sundays: Yacolt Evangelical Free Church, 509 W. Cushman St., Yacolt.

• Fourth Sundays: La Center Evangelical Free Church, 111 E. Fifth St., La Center.

People interested in helping can call the food bank’s message line at 360-263-5763 or email

Did you know?

In 2012, the Lewis River Mobile Food Bank provided families with more than 66,400 pounds of food.

photoCommunity members gather at the fire station in View for food from the Lewis River Mobile Food Bank on Sunday.

(/The Columbian)

photoDeborah Schitz, left, and Cark Hawes, center, of La Center, pick up food Jan. 6 from the Lewis River Food Bank at the View Fire Station in La Center.

(/The Columbian)

VIEW -- Some of Clark County's hungriest residents have a hard time getting to food banks and pantries.

So, the Lewis River Mobile Food Bank does its best to get to them.

On Sunday, about 30 families got a several-day supply of groceries from the food bank's 16-foot trailer at Fire District 10's Station 3 in the pastoral View area east of La Center.

"Some of them walk to us," said Candice Howell, board president of the food bank that travels on Sundays, hitting four communities once a month each.

"It's been nonstop since a quarter to 2," Howell said at 3:20 of the two-hour service. She said the food might last families four to six days.

"They're trying us instead of going hungry," Howell said. "We try to fill the gap."

Howell said about 300 people count on the mobile food bank.

One of them is Deborah Schmitz, who was there Sunday.

"It's a good supplement. A lot of the staples," Schmitz said. About two months ago, she lost her job cleaning motel rooms. She called the food bank volunteers "very nice people."

A father of two boys asked that his name not be used as he picked up food. He's been out of work framing houses since the summer of 2010 and tries to pick up small jobs.

Clients choose from about two dozen types of food -- meat, eggs, yogurt, juices, frozen food, canned goods, peanut butter and bread.

"No one should go hungry," Howell said.

The food bank has several major sponsors, Howell said. Grants help, as do donations from a variety of sources and individuals, including up to 1,600 pounds of food every other month from Messiah Lutheran Church in Vancouver.

The mobile food bank partners with the Oregon Food Bank and Clark County Food Bank. Each month, about 6,000 pounds of food is distributed to north-county clients.

Kathryn Thornton was at the fire station Sunday. She is the lead volunteer there for the food bank.

"I've been in the position where I've needed food, so I'm happy to help the people who need it now," she said.

The mobile food bank started in 2009 and grew from efforts of the Highland Lutheran Church. The board has nine members and about 50 volunteers.

"I have a great group of volunteers. It takes all of us together to make this happen," Howell said. No one is paid.

And hunger is not going away. Howell said state statistics show one in four children struggle with hunger and that Washington ranks 14th-highest in food insecurity.

"Each year our percentages (of clients) have increased greatly," Howell said. "We see more households where they are taking in family members and friends."