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News / Clark County News

Vancouver, Evergreen schools’ food pantries open for monthly fresh food pickup

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: October 4, 2023, 6:03am

Starting this month, the Clark County Food Bank’s School Pantry program will allow families to pick up free food at school locations across Vancouver throughout the school year.

A partnership with ShareVancouver, Evergreen Public Schools and Vancouver Public Schools, the School Pantry program provides fresh food for pickup once a month at 16 different school locations.

At each site, which will be available for a one-hour period each month, families must provide their Clark County Food Bank intake card and the names and birthdays of each member of their respective household.

Families who do not have an intake card will be issued one on site.

Last year, the School Pantry program distributed an estimated 185,000 pounds of fresh food across all sites, averaging about 500 households accessing the pantries per month.

All food at each event is provided by ShareVancouver and the Clark County Food Bank; any food left over remains with the respective school and will be further distributed by district staff.

Eligible families must be parents or families of students at the respective school district, whether Evergreen or Vancouver.

For specific times and dates on where families can pick up food October-May, visit the Clark County Food Bank’s School Pantry webpage here: https://www.clarkcountyfoodbank.org/schoolpantrysites.

A recent partnership

Alison Lauderdale, the director of community programs at the Clark County Food Bank, said the School Pantry program in its current form was born out of an increased demand for social services during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, the bank began partnering with ShareVancouver and family-community resource coordinators in Evergreen and Vancouver to expand the previous school pantry program.

“Schools for many people in our community are an anchor point,” said Lauderdale. “To have people in the schools to help navigate social services for families and provide resources for where they are is such an important thing. And that’s why we wanted to use that to help make this program more robust.”

Holding such distribution events at schools, Lauderdale said, also helps cut down on travel time for those seeking services.

“Families are already going to schools every day, they’re familiar with them,” she said. “This also saves them time in their day by not needing to make a second stop at another food pantry.”

Other pantry locations

Those in need in Clark County can access several other food pantry locations not at school. For detailed information on nearby sites, visit the Clark County Food Bank’s website at: https://www.clarkcountyfoodbank.org/foodfinder.