by Luke Putvin | Lynnwood Times
With the COVID-19 outbreak, the Lynnwood Food Bank is seeing a decrease of volunteers and an increase in those coming for help.
“This is a volunteer organization,” said Alissa Jones, Director of the Lynnwood Food Bank. “Right now, we are down about three quarters of our volunteers… Food is something that everyone needs. You can’t survive without it, and it’s not just important to have food, it’s important to have nutritious food.”
Jones mentioned that she has already seen an increase in those coming to the food bank. She has seen many new families, school bus drivers and others.
“The older I get, the more important it is to me that people in my own neighborhood are taken care of, and I think many people feel that way,” she said. “These are not strangers. These are families in our own school district. These are people in our community.”
The Lynnwood Food Bank needs help Monday through Friday with sorting, preparing, checking for food safety, packaging and other tasks. At this time, customers do not get out of their cars. Volunteers go to the car, get information on what is needed and then take that information to volunteers inside so they can fill a cart and put items directly in the trunk of the car.
Additional precautions at this time include extra cleanliness, sanitizing carts, wearing gloves, washing hands consistently and maintaining distance between volunteers when possible.
Luckily, there are those in the community that have heard the call to volunteer. Among the volunteers there on March 20 were city council members Shannon Sessions and Julieta Altamirano-Crosby, local resident Kelly Schorzman and Lynnwood Elementary School teacher Tom White.
Sessions said that people in the community have been reaching out to those who are healthy, willing and able to come out and help. A big reason there is such a sharp decline in volunteers is that seniors are normally a large population of those who volunteer. Sessions said that we need to be doing whatever we can to help keep seniors safe at this time.
“Volunteering has always been a priority in our family,” Sessions said. “It just shows, especially the kids who are out of school, a way to help others… I think especially in this time, when it is so easy to be self-centered and so easy to worry and panic about what’s happening in your own life, if you’re able to do something to take your eyes off of yourself and put them on someone else, it’s going to make you feel better and it’s going to help the community at large. It’s a win-win.”
“This is a crucial time and a difficult time where we have to reflect,” said Altamirano-Crosby. “We have to think about our community… I’m not comfortable to sit in my home and feel how privileged I am while outside there are a lot of people working. I am going to continue to keep coming here until they stop needing more volunteers.”
March 20 was Schorzman’s fifth day volunteering at the Lynnwood Food Bank. Schorzman lives in a clean and sober house, and it is a requirement to volunteer or work.
“I was in prison, and I’m trying to get back on track and do the next right thing,” Schorzman said. “Personally, the importance of volunteering is giving back to the community. I made a mistake in 2009. I actually work with at-risk youth, and it’s really the only way I can give back and do what’s right in the community.”
This was White’s second day at the food bank; he is a fourth grade teacher at Lynnwood Elementary School. “Since the school closure, obviously I had a lot of time on my hands, and I wanted to give back to the community,” he said. “There’s an increased need. A lot of people are out of work, and I felt very fortunate because, as teachers, we continue to get paid during the school closure. I felt like it would be nice if I did something to earn that salary during the closure.”
For more information on how to volunteer or donate to the Lynnwood Food Bank, visit www.lynnwoodfoodbank.org.