Rural food pantries push forward despite drawbacks
January 5, 2023
COLFAX — With the rise in food shortages and prices, food pantries have been having a hard time finding food. In the face of these crises Whitman County food pantries are feeling hopeful, and grateful to their communities for lending a helping hand.
Executive Director of Council on Aging, Paige Collins stated that though Second Harvest had to suspend services she has seen an outpouring of help from the local community. Other than a pipe bursting, and a minor setback with slight flooding they are moving forward well.
Collins confirmed that the early morning of Thursday, Dec. 29 Sampson’s Plumbing fixed the burst pipe, and turned the pantry water back on.
“At this moment we are still working on logistics for how this is going to work,” Collin’s said, noting that in January Moses lake is bringing in the food Second Harvest was going to.
“When we heard there was not going to be any food coming into Whitman County we called the State of Washington,” said Operations Manager of Community Services of Moses Lake, Penny Archer, “We let them know that we would be able to substitute for Second Harvest”
Archer mentioned that the Community Services of Moses Lake already takes care of Grant, Adams, Lincoln, Benton and Yakima counties.
“Right now we’re planning on doing it for the next eight months,” Archer said, “then we’ll reevaluate and see if Second Harvest is back on their feet.”
Collins mentioned that the food Community Services of Moses Lake will be bringing to Colfax is intended to be shared with other rural pantries.
At the Colton/Uniontown food pantry, Executive Director Debbie Niehenke also confirms that in times like this community plays an important role.
“The Colton Uniontown community is an amazing group,” Niehenke said, noting that when challenging situations like this come up everyone jumps in and figures out how to help.
Not only do the rural pantries feel thankful to their communities at this time, but also to the network that they’ve created together, “Paige has been tremendous, because she has been able to find us sources,” said Niehenke, adding that at every individual pantry the communities step up to volunteer more.
In regards to Second Harvest having to suspend their deliveries to Whitman County, Niehenke acknowledged that they had to make a difficult decision, “I know they’ve had challenges, and had to make a big decision,” she added that the announcement really made Whitman County step up.
“We had an appreciated outpouring, and were able to stock our Christmas baskets,” she said.
Both Collins and Niehenke have high hopes despite the challenges, and know that the food pantries are going to be ok.
“Whitman County is pretty well bound together,” Niehenke said, “Everyone steps up and helps everyone else,” noting that sometimes everyone just has to remember to share the information. Even with food prices up and shortages, Niehenke believes in the people of the rural communities, “I know our whole county is going to step in and help everyone,” she said.
The Community Services of Moses Lake, has a donations link at the bottom of their webpage, https://www.mlfood.org.