Pierce County grant helps fund Orting food bank

Say good-bye to candelabras and flower stands. Today, the rooms of the former Power’s Funeral Home in downtown Orting are lined with shelves and bins of food, fruits and vegetables. The new Orting Food Bank is open for business, thanks to a grant from Pierce County.

The Food Bank, a non-profit organization, received a $355,000 grant from the Pierce County Department of Community Connections. The funding for the purchase was made available through the federal Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) administered by Community Connections. The grant helped Orting purchase the Power’s Building at 224 Washington Ave SE. Workers and volunteers spent months converting the facility into a space to meet the increasing needs in the Orting community.

“Over three years our distribution grew by 183,000 pounds,” said Pam McGahey, director of the Orting Food Bank. “Today, close to 180 families visit us on a regular basis. We’re serving 8 to 10 percent of the Orting population.”

Previously, the non-profit was located in a small trailer a few blocks across town. The trailer had no heat or bathroom. Food was stored in several locations, and clients stood outside in the rain to receive groceries. The new facility provides room for storage, a comfortable place for volunteers, and a dry space for clients to wait for their appointments.

“We had some growing pains getting the new building, but it was all worth it,” McGahey said. “We cannot thank the staff at the Community Connections enough. They went above and beyond to help us make our dream a reality.”

The Food Bank relies on volunteer support and donations from the community to keep the shelves stocked. On Fri., April 20, the public is invited to attend a Spring Fundraiser Gala Event at the High Cedars Golf Club. In addition to dinner, a silent auction and raffle will be held beginning at 6 p.m. For more information, call (360) 893-3150 or visit http://www.ortingfoodbank.org .

CDBG funding is available for a variety of public projects, including renovations or purchases of buildings that will serve low-income individuals. Community Connections also manages funding for emergency shelters, violence prevention, food banks, senior center programs, and legal services. Last year, the agency’s community development unit administered 95 contracts – $6.6 million in grant funding. Through this work, an estimated 140,000 Pierce County residents were served. More information about the department is available at http://www.piercecountywa.org/cc .