Bonney Lake food bank proposes move to council

Sean McGarity

The Bonney Lake Food Bank casts a wide net of aid and community service over the city and neighboring communities. However, Executive Director Stew Bowen announced last week the food bank needs to change locations in order to continue to offer its services to residents.

During the May 26 Bonney Lake City Council meeting, Bowen presented his plans to move the food bank from its current location next to the Bonney Lake fire station to the empty gravel lot on 89th Street East, across the street from the Bonney Lake Community Garden.

The council reacted positively to the proposal, and the move is set to be discussed at upcoming council workshops.

Service capacity reached

When the food bank started in 2009, approximately 42,000 individuals were given aid between July of 2009 and June of 2010.

According to Bowen, that number increased to 49,000 individuals during 2014.

The food bank also served 17,920 children last year, up from 16,000 kids served between July 2009 and June 2010.

Bowen said the food bank aids 4,400 people each month on average, with 40 percent of that figure being children and 15 percent senior residents.

If that average stays the same for the rest of the 2015 year, Bowen expects to serve close to 53,000 people.

Close to 1.6 million pounds of food was donated to the food bank in 2014 as well, Bowen said during his presentation.

“We’ve become part of a safety net in our community,” Bowen said. “And we do have vision for growth.”

Moving and expanding

Bowen said the food bank needs to move in order to increase the capacity of their services, which includes food aid and services for children.

While the move is still being planned by both the food bank and the city, Bowen had already rounded up some donations and willing volunteers to help with the transition.

The buildings, for example, will be donated by Interstellar Modular.

A local landscaper has also volunteered his services to the food bank, according to Bowen, and set up and tear down of the project will also be covered.

The plot of land belongs to Bonney Lake and the city has granted the food bank temporary use of the lot until the food bank is ready to relocate again in the future.

Bowen said he feels very lucky to have as much community support on this project as he does.

“God keeps blessing and doors keep opening,” he said.

In total, Bowen expects the food bank to contribute around $166,000 to the move, which includes all in-kind donations and volunteer work given to the project.

Bowen and the City Council will be discussing how much the city is willing to help the food bank during upcoming council workshops.

Bowen asked the council on May 26 to consider waiving design standards on the buildings, because while the buildings are coming to the food bank in-kind, they are not up to downtown design standards.

“It would be really expensive and challenging to get those buildings up to standard,” Bowen said during a later interview. “I don’t know if we could do that.”

Bowen is also asking for the city to consider waiving permits, permit fees and to continue to cover utility fees for the food bank.

In the future, Bowen hopes to be able to develop the food bank into an all-inclusive community center, where Bonney Lake residents can come to receive not only food aid, but pro-bono services like health care, dental care and even legal advice.

Bowen also wants to expand the food bank’s programs for kids.

“If we had a building designed by us, it would be nice to have roll-up doors for a market for produce season,” Bowen said, describing his dream building. “If we really are attempting to give people a hand up and not just a hand out, how powerful would it be to have these things?”