Five days a week, the volunteers and staff at a small Battle Ground nonprofit are fighting against hunger in North Clark County.
It’s an uphill battle, and local businesses are among the partners that are key to the North County Community Food Bank’s efforts, said Elizabeth Cerveny, executive director of the organization.
The food bank distributed just under 600,000 pounds of food to roughly 7,500 households spread across Amboy, Yacolt, Brush Prairie, Heisson and Battle Ground. Demand has growing by double-digits for two consecutive years, and is continuing to grow in 2013.
Now North County Community Food Bank (NCCFB) is starting to think about expanding and moving away from its current location – though an actual move could still be five to 10 years off, Cerveny said.
A more immediate initiative: recruiting more board members from beyond Battle Ground, so the food bank’s directors reflect all the communities the nonprofit serves.
“We’re seeing people who have a passion for what we do,” Cerveny said.
According to Cerveny, North Clark County candidates should contact the food bank if they are interested in tackling tough questions such as, “How can we move forward as an organization and help break the cycle of generational poverty and lack of opportunity? How can we work smarter and develop programs that target the root of hunger? How can we help families so the next generation no longer needs that assistance?”
The food bank’s needs extend beyond board members. Grocery stores often make donations, but the nonprofit welcomes non-food contributions from the business community as well.
“A lot of expenses we have are basic operational costs,” Cerveny said. “If somebody is closing an office, they could target supplies in our direction. We can then in turn give them a nonprofit letter we can use for their tax deduction. If they have items they are no longer using, those can be to us a huge expense. If they can buy things at a discounted rate and give us a ream of paper, that’s one less thing we have to expend food dollars on.”
North County Community Food Bank is also eager for volunteer help from professionals willing to donate pro bono services in areas such as accounting, the law and grant writing, Cerveny said.
She’s quick to point out that a number of businesses are major contributors to the food bank’s efforts.
“Wilco, Albertson’s, Fred Meyer – we pick up groceries that are close to expiration or seasonal. We work with Target in the same capacity. It’s hard to provide an adequate list of who we pick up groceries from,” Cerveny said. “A number of distribution houses in the Ridgefield industrial area, as they are cleaning out their freezers, will contact us.
“We are blessed with the length of time we’ve been in place and over the years the ability to develop relationships with businesses,” she added.