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Originally published Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Editorial: Thankful for our food banks

Western Washington food banks are working overtime to feed the hungry, but donations aren’t keeping up with the persistent demand for help.

Seattle Times Editorial

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When there are hungry mouths to feed at home, pounding rain and cold temperatures are no obstacle.

The determined spirit of struggling Washingtonians was in evidence Monday at Northwest Harvest’s Cherry Street Food Bank, where a long line was backed up for three hours. During that time, more than 1,000 people braved the severe weather for a chance to collect the ingredients they’ll need to cook a Thanksgiving meal for their families.

The Cherry Street line is just one of nearly 50 food banks around King County. The need for assistance throughout — and after — the holiday season is not going to subside.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn recently sounded the alarm for help by asking local residents to give to their food banks. He cited a U.S. Conference of Mayors report that indicates food donations in the region have declined by 31 percent over the past five years.

At the same time, local food charities have seen a sharp rise in clientele since the economy began faltering in 2008 — about a 25 percent increase, according to the Seattle Food Committee.

Some organizations say the number of families in need of assistance has finally leveled off this year.

Others, like the Asian Counseling and Referral Service’s food bank in the International District, helped 50 percent more individuals than the 400 expected last Friday during their weekly distribution. On that particular day, donors happened to drop off about 400 extra rotisserie chickens. Two hundred more received frozen poultry. Everyone went home with something.

Time and again, Seattle residents have proved their generosity. They should continue to open their hearts and their wallets to help fight hunger and food insecurity throughout the state.

With sustenance comes a sense of dignity that may help individuals and families survive this stubborn economic downturn.

Northwest Harvest staff and volunteers have observed that clients sometimes have too much pride to make eye contact.

But when they do — their gratitude shines through.

Members of the public are encouraged to provide canned goods and monetary donations year-round. Find your local food bank at http://www.nwharvest.org or http://www.foodlifeline.org

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