Posted by Steve Lettau on Sep 25, 2019

Volunteers keep food pantries from going without

By David Sarasohn in the October 2019 issue of The Rotarian magazine

The space looks a bit like a small-town grocery store. Open cartons of potatoes, cabbages, oranges, and other produce stretch down the middle of the room. Boxes and cans of food are arranged on shelves along the walls. Customers walk around, checking out the items on offer.

What’s missing is a cash register.

There are 66,000 food pantries in the United States, places where millions of people come to fill the empty space between their cupboards and the end of the month. The pantries operate in church basements, community centers, and schools. This one — the Westside Food Pantry of FISH (Friends in Service to Humanity) of Vancouver, Washington — used to be tucked into a corner of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. But at the end of 2015, it bought its own building with the help of a state grant, a mortgage — and a capital campaign led by Katlin Smith, a member of the Rotary Club of Vancouver and the current president of the FISH of Vancouver board of directors.