"The [Yakima Rotary] Food Bank was started in 1971. The committee that planned the Food Bank included representatives from Department of Social and Health Services, Southeast Community Center, St. Vincent DePaul, the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and the Council of Churches. There was mutual concern felt regarding the need for all of us to join our resources in order to help people in need of food and coordinate planning to avoid duplication. Our information indicated that income for many - some of the older people particularly - is inadequate to keep up with increasing higher expenses, with the result that less money is available for food."
Thus, from the beginning, we were organized to meet a community need using community resources and organizations.
My personal involvement with the Yakima Rotary Food Bank did not begin until 1994. However, my wife and I were active in the anti-hunger movement in 1971. This was a time of consolidation of anti-hunger efforts. In the 1960's and prior, many churches had food pantries, literally in pantries. Food was gathered by members or purchased from pastor's discretionary funds and given to those who presented themselves in need. People needing food would go from church to church until they gathered the food they needed. This was expensive in terms of gas and time to the persons seeking the food and expensive to providers because there were no benefits of scale. Joining resources made a lot of sense.
This was also a time when food assistance was thought to be primarily for temporary emergencies, such as the loss of a job before benefits began, or an unexpected car repair, medical payment, or similar expense. It was unusual for organizations in 1971 to realize that there was structural hunger - caused by inadequate income to keep up with increasing higher expenses.
From our beginning 44 years ago, we have tried to mobilize resources to help people in need of food. Future posts will deal with some of our challenges and some of our successes.