Three weeks ago, volunteers at The Bridge Community Hope Center in Birch Bay started distributing free food to people in need. While they were planning to do it even before the current crisis hit, the new program comes at an especially critical time.
In the first week of the program, 15 families were served, said volunteer Rosemary Connors. In the second week, 32 families were served. In the third week, 54 families – 187 people – were served. Connors expected demand to grow further.
“The goodness in people’s hearts is coming out now,” she said. “People are reaching out to others and caring more. They are not letting this virus stop us from being caring people. I’m seeing that in a real way.”
The program is supported by 7 to 10 volunteers at The Bridge. Food comes from Sustainable Connections in Bellingham and Miracle Food Network in Ferndale, which collect unused food from restaurants, delis and other sources. According to some estimates, 40 percent of all food in the United States ends up being wasted.
People in need of food can register for the program by calling The Bridge at 360/366-8763 or sending a message to its Facebook page. Registration should be done before Friday morning, because food comes in on Fridays and is distributed on Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon until 4 p.m.
When food is distributed, the six-foot rule is observed, said Connors, and food will be brought out to your car. It can also be delivered to you if you are elderly, disabled or otherwise unable to leave your residence.
In addition to the new food program, The Bridge is also home to the Grace Core Chaplaincy, a team of eight chaplains who help meet the immediate needs of those in crisis. For example, the chaplains recently assisted an elderly woman from Ferndale who was going through chemotherapy and had her water shut off. They also recently assisted some low-income families by paying for a week’s worth of gas and propane.
This kind of help is typically given following a screening interview with a chaplain, explained chaplain Lee Connors. “We’re there to help people who have fallen through the cracks, who can’t get the services they need,” he said.
For more information about The Bridge and its programs, or to make a donation or inquire about volunteering, please visit thebridgehope.com.