Key Peninsula Community Services Executive Director Willow Eaton can pretty much sum up the current economics of a nonprofit food bank in one sentence: “The demand is up, but the supply is down.”
The demand is only encouraging KPCS to expand its services, which includes providing a senior center, meals for the community and a food bank to meet the need of local residents.
The Lakebay organization recently earned two $100,000 grants from the Washington State Department of Agriculture to strengthen its infrastructure to continue serving the Key Peninsula for years to come. In November, KPCS will increase space in its parking lot and make it more accessible, and in early 2023 plans to add protective fencing around the property.
Perhaps the biggest undertaking for this nearly 100-year-old former Lakebay Elementary school house is fixing up the masonry of the brick-and-mortar building early next year. It’s not just for aesthetic purposes; guests and staff are starting to feel the effects of the outdoor elements during the respective seasons.
KPCS is hoping to take advantage of the restoration by starting an “Engrave your name in history” fundraising campaign. The organization needs to replace 200 bricks in the building, and donors can buy a brick for $200. Each brick can have two lines engraved with 16 characters on each line. Eaton is hoping the fundraiser brings in $40,000 for KPCS. The campaign ends November 11.
“We want to be here for a long time,” Eaton said. “More than anything we like to have people here visiting us. It’s why we exist. It’s the ‘community’ part of our name.”
Like most nonprofit organizations and those they serve, KPCS is still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In October, the organization had to stop doing home deliveries to seniors across the Key Peninsula who were staying home to be safe because pandemic-funding from Pierce County for that program ended. According to Eaton, more than 18,000 meals were delivered to seniors in the last 30 months, and almost 60 seniors depended on those meals each day.
“We tried really hard to continue home delivery, but it would cost us $10,000 a month to keep it going,” Eaton said. “It’s disappointing and sad because some seniors just can’t leave their home due to health reasons or because they’re the caretaker for their spouse.”
Instead, KPCS is inviting seniors and others to join them at the Lakebay location for lunch Tuesdays through Friday from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Meals are free for those over 60 but a donation is appreciated; for those under 60, it’s $5. Eaton encourages anyone who plans to attend to make a reservation so there will be enough food. The meal program drives the organization’s senior center, as most activities happen before or after lunch.
The KPCS food bank is something Eaton has been particularly proud of since the start of the pandemic.
“Our food bank was open during COVID,” said Eaton. “We didn’t miss a day, even early on.” She admits service was a little slower than normal during that time because only her full-time staff was working, instead of her small army of volunteers.
Today, the KPCS food bank is feeding more than 2,000 clients a month. Eaton used emergency COVID funding to buy additional refrigeration systems to help with the demand for fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. Clients can even pick-up dog and cat food, diapers and toiletry items. She is hoping for an influx of food donations during the holidays, and for those needing a Thanksgiving turkey, KPCS is accepting orders through November 11.
But even with grants and being able to meet the need, KPCS continues to raise funds.
The Key Peninsula Logging Show in August brought in $12,000 each for KPCS and Food Backpacks 4 Kids, another Lakebay-based nonprofit serving the Key Peninsula. Food donations are accepted Tuesday through Friday at 17015 9th Street Ct. NW in Lakebay. KPCS also takes financial donations online at keypeninsulacommunityservices.org.
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