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Food banks prep for winter with help of Octoberfest food drive

Tri-City Area Food Banks executive director William Kitchen reaches into a bin at the food bank location in Kennewick.{ }

As the weather cools down and temperatures start to drop, food banks in the area are prepping for the winter months.

It’s certainly on William Kitchen's mind, even though there’s one thing on his winter wish list: “No snow!”

As executive director of the Tri-City Area food banks, Kitchen says the unprecedented amount of snow last winter caused quite a few issues for them, including keeping clients and volunteers away from the food banks and demolishing their finances.

According to Kitchen, they budgeted $500 for snow removal last year. Instead he says, "We spent over $10,000 last year for snow removal and ice removal. So it really put a dent in our budget."

This year they're taking a proactive stance by increasing the snow removal budget and stockpiling at least two months’ worth of food in a central storage area that will be handed out when the weather takes a turn for the worst.

But the food won't stay on the shelves long.

"We handle 20 tons of food a week.”

To help with the constant need, the Tri-City Area Food Bank, along with five other organizations, will benefit from the 16th annual Octoberfest Food Bank - Food Drive.

Other organizations impacted are the Salvation Army, Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, St. Vincent De Paul, Golden Age Food Source and Blue Mountain Action Council.

For the month of October, several Tri-Cities and Walla Walla dealerships have teamed up with the Yoke's Fresh Markets in the Tri-Cities to collect food and other donations.

All non-perishable items can be brought to any of the McCurley Integrity Dealerships or Russ Dean RV in the Tri-Cities and McCurley Integrity Toyota in Walla Walla.

There will also be a cash donation to be funded by October sales. The goal is to reach $45,000.

In addition, people shopping at Yoke’s Fresh Market in Tri-Cities can purchase an Octoberfest “Food-Drive Food-Bag.” There will be drop off bin for the bags. They’ll then be taken to food banks in the area.

West Richland Yoke’s store manager Sheldon Cragun says all of the food stays in the community.

"They're our friends and neighbors and I think this is kind of a unique opportunity to help them directly."

It’s a food drive that Kitchen is grateful for. "Having 17,000 pounds of food all at once - that is such a godsend because then we can put that in storage and control that for the bad weather."

Which means that, snow or not, they're prepared to help those in need.

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