AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. - The Airway Heights Walmart parking lot turned into a food distribution center on Tuesday.
Second Harvest’s ‘Mobile Market” is a travelling food bank, operated year round, to provide the Inland Northwest with food.
“We load this truck up with 8,000, 10,000 pounds of beautiful and fresh, perishable foods and folkl can come from all around and get what they need,” said Second Harvest’s Julie Humphreys.
Volunteers at each location provide clients with carts or boxes and send them along a ‘farmer’s market style’ line where they can select the produce they want, free of charge and no questions asked.
“It's hard, it's humbling to ask for something at no cost to accept this free food. People are very gracious. They're so thankful. They're very thankful for the fresh produce,” Humphreys said.
Supplying those in need with food to provide healthy meals is part of Second Harvest’s goal for the Mobile Market. But, as Joann Duross made her way through the food line on Tuesday, she was still able to pick up a sweet surprise for her 12-year-old son.
“I got donuts! For my son, he loves donuts,” she said.
Duross, her son and her sister live together. The two women are on disability, and do not work, relying on food stamps to put food on the table. But, the time between food stamps can be stressful, Duross said, which is why she values a service like the Mobile Market.
“It is very stressful when you're on a limited budget and you only get so much from the state it is really hard to try to make those food stamps last the whole month,” she said.
Many of the people who come through the Mobile Market’s line come from similar circumstances. But Humphreys and Duross were quick to point out that the resources at these events are available to anyone in need. Both pointed specifically to people and families whose income is too high to qualify for food stamps, but who still experience food insecurity.
“I wish more people would see that that's another option when you're in between paychecks or food stamps that there are resources out there for us,” Duross said.
Tuesday’s Mobile market was staffed by Walmart associates, many of whom came in on their days off to help.
“50% of them are on their day off, that's how passionate they are about the community. They'll come out here and serve,” said Michael Reeves, the store manager of the Airway Heights Walmart. “Us store managers, we'll come out here and do everything we can to support the cause as well,” he said.
The partnership between Walmart and Second Harvest extends beyond Tuesday’s event.
Until May 20, shoppers inside the store can aid Second Harvest by donating at registers, or by purchasing marked items. It’s part of Walmart’s Fight Hunger, Spark Change program, and the money goes to make events like the Mobile Market possible.
“It's a great way to come out into the community and support the community and more importantly to just extend a helping hand,” Reeves said.
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