Business

Food, book drive hit by downturn

Thurston County Food Bank workers Isaac Mackenzie Sullivan, left, and Scott Douglas unload donated food at the organization's downtown Olympia site Thursday as it completes its "Well Fed, Well Read" drive, picking up food donations at various state agencies.
Thurston County Food Bank workers Isaac Mackenzie Sullivan, left, and Scott Douglas unload donated food at the organization's downtown Olympia site Thursday as it completes its "Well Fed, Well Read" drive, picking up food donations at various state agencies. The Olympian

A two-week food and book drive to benefit the Thurston County Food Bank and the South Sound Reading Foundation concluded Thursday, and it likely fell short of collection goals, organizers said.

The drive is called “Well Fed, Well Read” and pits state agencies against one another in a friendly competition to see which ones can generate the most food and book donations.

More than 30 organizations, including Thurston County offices, participated with a goal of collecting 30,000 pounds of food and 15,000 new and “gently used” children’s books, food bank Executive Director Robert Coit said Thursday. The total number of books and food collected this year was not immediately available, although food collections likely were lower than the 25,000 to 30,000 pounds collected last year, he said.

“It’s just a sign of the economy,” Coit said.

Reading Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Forster could not be reached Thursday.

The April food drive is a welcome occasion for the food bank because the month typically is lean for donations, because the peak donation season is “long since gone,” he said. Food donations for the organization are highest between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Coit said. The state Lottery was among the state agencies that participated in the drive and also is one of the founding participants of the event, special event manager Terri Geddy-Butler said. This year, the organization and its 85 employees contributed 2,200 pounds of food and 270 books, down from 2,900 pounds and 800 books last year, she said. She said that she’s grateful for the donations but acknowledged that they were down because the Lottery had been focused on helping some of its own employees.

“When something is happening in one of our staff’s lives, we help take care of that person with some of their own needs,” said Geddy-Butler, a 19-year employee at the Lottery.

Last year, the state Attorney General’s Office was the large agency winner for food and book collections, while the winner for most overall food and books was the state Department of Social and Health Services, she said.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

rboone@theolympian.com

www.theolympian.com/bizblog

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