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    Guardsmen support local food banks as part of COVID-19 response

    Washington National Guard members respond to the COVID-19 pandemic

    Photo By Joseph Siemandel | Staff Sgt. Amber Barker, 194th Wing, Washington Air National Guard stakes pallets of...... read more read more

    CAMP MURRAY, WA, UNITED STATES

    04.02.2020

    Story by Joseph Siemandel  

    Joint Forces Headquarters, Washington National Guard

    With many Washingtonians not able to work, buying even basics, like food, is becoming more of a challenge. At the same time, volunteers who are relied upon to operate our local food banks are staying home, many of whom fall in the at-risk categories for Covid-19.

    “The Washington National Guard will provide important help to our communities to ensure our critical food banks remain stocked and operational,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in a tweet. “They’re filling an important need and I ask that you welcome them in your communities as they process, package and distribute meals.”

    More than 130 Air and Army National Guardsmen from the 194th Wing and 81st Brigade Combat Team jumped at the chance to help their neighbors in Chelan, Franklin, King, Pierce and Walla Walla counties.

    “These Guardsmen will provide critical support to our food banks and pantries that are low on staff and need help getting food to some of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, the adjutant general. “By looking out for our neighbors and following proper health safety guidelines, we will get through this together.”

    The food banks being supported are located in areas that often support neighboring towns. The Chelan county operations, being conducted from the Toyota Center, an arena used for concerts and sporting events, now distributes meals for families in the greater Wenatchee area and supplies meals to the towns of Leavenworth, Bridgeport, Mansfield and Waterville. At the Issaquah food bank in King County, Lisa Haynes, the volunteer coordinator, said they are supporting Issaquah and the entire east side of King County.

    “We are supporting the neighborhoods of Duvall, Carnation, Maytown, Hobart and North Bend, but we won’t turn anyone away that needs a meal,” said Haynes.

    At the Issaquah location, Guardsmen are unloading deliveries, processing food, repackaging and staging for distribution each 44 pound box to families that come through.

    “This is a huge help,” said Haynes. “We are starting a new process and we just don’t know how many people are really in need right now, but we grateful to have the Guard here supporting us. We are also blessed to have the support of so many grocers and companies.”

    At a food bank in the community of Edgewood, Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Amber Barker is ready to support the community she lives just 30 minutes from.

    “I live just down the road, and this is my first chance to help the community so I was glad to volunteer,” said Barker.

    Kate Wright, the Executive Director at the Edgewood food bank said that the support is critical because many of the staff are listed as high-risk if they catch the virus.

    “I am not supposed to be here,” said Wright. “I could be high risk, so having the Guard here is so helpful. We are helping to feed more than 400 families a week now, almost double what we were at before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Guardsmen will begin supporting another eight food banks in the coming days with more requests expected to come in next week.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.02.2020
    Date Posted: 04.02.2020 19:21
    Story ID: 366462
    Location: CAMP MURRAY, WA, US 

    Podcast Hits: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN