June 5th, 2014
by Sierra Brown
Jen and I met bright and early in the parking lot behind the Food Bank on Thursday morning to do outreach in front. Robin Rudy and staff greeted us and helped us get set up in the lawn so we could offer coffee and ask folks to participate in our social service access survey. The line to get in wasn’t too large, and people trickled in over the course of two hours. The Tenino Food Bank Plus is open Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 8:30-10:30. The only other food bank in Tenino is a Thurston County Food Bank Satellite, operating out of Heratige Baptist church on Saturdays from 2-5pm.
One mama we talked to said she comes to this food bank when she can, but finds it difficult to work it into her busy schedule. Her main mode of transportation is borrowing vehicles from her friends, and she is very grateful for the support system she has to help her get to and from work and also run errands such as food bank trips. When she does not have a vehicle during the Tenino Food Bank Plus hours, she makes her way into Olympia to access the Thurston County Food Bank. Her mother has an address in Olympia, and she said she would get turned away from TCFB if she gave them her Tenino address. This is an anecdote of access to social services in rural Thurston County. Hours of operation and transportation to services are barriers to access.
We had some good conversations with other food bank recipients and spent a while on the front porch chatting with Robin about Tenino social services and local government politics. Robin has been working at the food bank for 30 years and is a proud service provider who offers a wide variety of social services for low income and people experiencing homelessness. She does not believe anyone is falling through the cracks in her town. The limitations we imagine are people not knowing what kind of help they can receive from the food bank, or being unable to get to the food bank because of lack of transportation.
After the food bank shut its doors we made our way to Rainier for an interview with Tollie, the director of Sugar N Spice daycare. We had learned from our contact at CYS who does outreach in Rainier that this daycare is a real hub for families and parents. The daycare is right next door to the middle school and is centered in the town.
Our final stop for the day was the Yelm Lions Club free dinner. We arranged to do combined outreach with Cole from CYS. We saw some familiar faces and met some new folks; we made sure to tell everyone about our ice cream social we are having this coming Monday, June 9th. One mom we chatted with who came to the dinner with her kids to help clean up was pleasantly surprised to hear about our project and gave us some good ideas about how POWER and CYS can co-organize an event to connect with Yelm youth this summer. She feels that there aren’t enough healthy activities for young people and she doesn’t feel they know about services available to them while in need. We didn’t have an opportunity to talk with the director of the dinners, but were glad to be able to meet some of the recipients of this needed service.