Many South Sound residents line up with regularity at food banks to round out their food supply. But not all of them find it easy to pick up donated food from the Thurston County Food Bank.
The bank’s distribution site is in the north end of downtown Olympia, near a bus line. That’s less handy than a new branch bank and garden that the food bank and city of Lacey are planning along Martin Way.
The parties have already taken a big step in securing a site in a commercial zone at 7027 Martin Way East, near the Tanglewilde housing development. The food bank paid $600,000 for the former 1.5-acre Colonial Meats site, which came available in April, and the city earmarked another $200,000 from a federal community development block grant.
Food bank executive director Robert Coit says work on the project could begin over the winter. An opening date has not been announced, but fundraising is still getting underway soon to help defray costs of the $2.5 million project.
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During a meeting last week with The Olympian Editorial Board, Mayor Andy Ryder, Deputy Mayor Cynthia Pratt, council member Lenny Greenstein and city manager Scott Spence showed high enthusiasm for the project.
A new food bank meets a community need. Spence said some 11,000 Lacey-area residents use the Olympia facility. Greenstein said 1,200 children in low-income households who qualify for subsidized meals at school live within 3-mile radius of the food bank site.
The project shaping up is a true community effort. The city, Lacey Chamber of Commerce and North Thurston Public Schools are all expected to help raise funds.
A farm stand is planned in the facility’s front facing Martin Way where patrons can pick out foods. The storage area will be in the middle of the lot. A garden that can supply fresh produce part of the year is envisioned for the rear of the narrow lot, and it will be overseen by local nonprofit Garden-Raised Bounty, or GRuB. Local military veterans may be enlisted to tend the garden.
The reach-out to veterans is something Lacey city leaders have done before. They provide space at City Hall for an office “hub” where other groups’ staff offer help with housing, job searches and other veterans’ needs such as counseling.
The hungry and homeless live in all of our communities, and Lacey is wise to open its arms to the project. The Lacey pantry would complement the main food bank in Olympia by being open on different days.
It is deserving of strong community support.