Food insecurity worries Clark Co. residents ahead of holidays

Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 4:05 PM PST
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BATTLE GROUND, Wash. (KPTV) - Food banks in Southwest Washington are asking for help as they see an increase of food-insecure people looking for meals during the holiday season.

Elizabeth Cerveny, Executive Director of the North County Community Food Bank in Battle Ground, says they’ve seen an increase in clients over the last few months. Typically her 1,600-square-foot food bank serves about 50 households a day but at the end of October they helped more than 75 households in one day.

“With December and the colder weather heat bills go up and everything becomes more costly, while also trying to fit in some Christmas for everyone as well,” Cerveny says.

It’s not just current Clark County residents who the food bank is helping out, but also refugees from the War in Ukraine who’ve settled in the area.

“It breaks your heart to see those families and those children, the fear in their faces and the uncertainty,” Cerveny says. “So our goal here is no matter the client, we always try and put a smile on their face before they leave.”

According to Feeding America, around 640,000 Washingtonians are food insecure. The organization also says one in eight children face food insecurity in Washington. More specifically in Clark County, where Feeding America found 10% of community members were food insecure in 2020. But, with inflation on the rise since then, the number is likely higher. To help her neighbors, 92-year-old Millie Wilkins spends her Monday packing dozens of boxes of food.

“I just feel the need to do it and I have the time to do it,” Wilkins says. “I make time to do it.”

Wilkins has been volunteering at the North County Community Food Bank for eight years and says she loves helping her neighbors in need.

“It means a lot to me it really does,” Wilkins says. “At my age, I can still be helpful and that’s what I want to do.”

Cerveny says if you’d like to help you drop off perishable and non-perishable food at their location in Battle Ground. She also says you can take advantage of discounts at the grocery store. For example, if there’s a buy one get one free promotion on soup, you can buy the can of soup for yourself and donate the free one. Cerveny also says you can reach out to the North County Community Food Bank and volunteer. You may end up helping Wilkins pack boxes.

“Everybody can spare some time, four hours, one day a week, it doesn’t have to be all day,” Wilkins says. “Some people are here only two hours, but it’s two hours that they’re helping.”

You can also round up your next bill at Fred Meyer as part of the FOX 12 Hunger Free Project. That money will go straight to local food banks in our area to help those who are food insecure.