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Clark County Food Bank served more than 135,000 people in 2023

Nonprofit reflects on past year of hunger alleviation at meeting

By Chrissy Booker, Columbian staff writer
Published: January 30, 2024, 6:13pm
4 Photos
Clark County Food Bank President Alan Hamilton talks to the crowd of hundreds of volunteers, donors and partners at its annual meeting at the Hilton Vancouver Washington.
Clark County Food Bank President Alan Hamilton talks to the crowd of hundreds of volunteers, donors and partners at its annual meeting at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. (Photos by Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Alleviating hunger in Clark County is no small feat, but the Clark County Food Bank hopes to lead the charge.

In 2023, the nonprofit provided food and services to more than 135,000 people experiencing hunger — a 20 percent increase from clients served in 2022.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Clark County Food Bank shared that progress as the nonprofit reflected on its work over the past year during its annual meeting at the Hilton Vancouver Washington. Members of the organization spoke, hosted trivia and highlighted volunteers who have dedicated their time over the years.

While the food bank’s reach is growing, so is the need.

“I’m inspired that there are so many people who care and that want to be a part of the solution,” said Alan Hamilton, the nonprofit’s president. “I’m also sad a little bit that the need is as big as it is. So many people don’t know where they’re going to get food tomorrow.”

More than 120,000 people in Clark County experience food insecurity, according to the food bank.

It partners with more than 50 agencies and 100 distribution sites to provide emergency food relief with healthy and culturally relevant choices — while also addressing the underlying causes of hunger.

In addition to providing food to individuals and families, the food bank assists with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program applications, tax services, farming and advocacy. Its nutrition education program is designed to teach healthy cooking skills, meal planning, food safety and budgeting to low-income people.

Clark County Food Bank volunteer administrator Michele Richardson presented the Volunteer of the Year award to Vancouver resident Diana Rogers. When Rogers found out she had been chosen, she said, “I’m sure there is someone who deserves it more than me.”

Hamilton said volunteerism is the heart of what the food bank does. In 2023, 4,197 people volunteered a collective total of 58,887 hours.

Among them is Barbara Monroe, who has volunteered with the food bank for years. When she became homeless at 76 years old, the food bank helped her secure housing and meals.

“They’ve helped me with food. They’ve helped me move. Volunteering is my career; I just love to help,” Monroe said.

Donations, grants and food drives also power the food bank’s mission. Last year, its total revenue was $18.7 million — of which 62 percent came from donated food.

“Love travels on food,” said Christina Stewart, director of development. “We thrive through giving: the giving of one’s time, food or financial resources. All of which we could not do what we do without.”

In September, the Clark County Food Bank announced a $1 million donation from Craig and Linn Dee Stein to complete its Vision Center.

Construction of the Vision Center is now 90 percent complete, and it’s projected to open in the spring. The 13,000-square-foot center will distribute 27,000 pounds of food a month and allow the food bank to process more donations and create access to cultural and dietary-specific food for Clark County residents.

“The Vision Center is meant to inspire and grow the vision of the Clark County Food Bank,” board member Brett Bryant said. “We always say we want to eventually work ourselves out of a job.”

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.