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Save A Lot grocery donates a lot of food and sundries

Save A Lot grocery recently help to fight hunger for some in Port Orchard by making a huge donation of food to the South Kitsap Helpline Food Bank.

The store, which closed its doors last week, donated more than $6,000 food to the non-profit agency to help those in need during the difficult economic times.

South Kitsap Helpline Executive Director Jennifer Hardison said that the donation went to good use. As the president of the Kitsap County Food Bank Coalition, she knows that other charity oriented food distributers within her food-charity network thoroughly appreciated the donation.

Save A Lot's food donation to South Kitsap Helpline was so bountiful that it enabled the agency to share a portion of these resources with the Bremerton Foodline and the Young Women's Christian Association.

“It's like Christmas. The timing of it was fantastic and we are just thrilled,” Hardison said. “We are pretty fortunate because all of the food banks are struggling.”

Hardison said that the South Kitsap Helpline's main source of revenue to cover operating costs such as electricity, maintenance to the South Kitsap Helpline delivery/pick-up truck and staffing workers, is the food bank's adjacent nursery. Sales of vegetables, herbs and flowers, as well as monetary donations from patrons, are down because of the poor economy, so covering these costs is becoming increasingly difficult.

"We don't have money to purchase food," Hardison said."Only a few restaurants have been buying our produce and a few people buy our plants."

Reliant on donations as a nonprofit doesn't mean you get things for free, bills can't be paid with food, Hardison said bills with food."

South Kitsap Help Line Food Program Manager Susan Salki said that many of the items donated by Save A Lot are not available to those with food stamps, such as purchase toiletry items, household cleaners, eating utensils, plastic wrap, bar soap, laundry soap and toothpaste with the food stamp cards.

With the South Kitsap Helpline people are allowed to pick two non-food items such as laundry soap, toilet paper, bar soap and toothpaste, in addition to the food items.

“Some of the stuff Save A Lot donated is to preserve your food in,” Salki said. “You can't purchase paper plates with food stamps.

Salki said that South Kitsap Helpline workers determine the needs of the client according to age, tastes, health and family size among other factors.

“We ask them, 'are you diabetic, are you low-energy, are you a vegetarian?” Salki said. “We try to accommodate them as best as we can.”

Food items that South Kitsap Helpline places within their food baskets for needy South Kitsap citizens include  meat, pasta, peanut butter, jelly, beans, rice, salad dressings and fruit drinks, among other items.

Save A Lot donated frozen seafood, dairy products, cereal, meats, drinks as well as their entire Hispanic foods section, Salki said.

Hardison said that the Bremerton Food Line often works with the Spanish speaking population so that the Hispanic foods donation, which included Mexican crackers, candies, drinks and chile with lemon spices was particularly helpful.

Overall, Salki said that Save A Lot donated three pallets of frozen items and nine pallets of dry items and that South Kitsap Helpline made three trips in the South Kitsap Helpline truck to pick up the goods for people in need in Port Orchard.

On average, the South Kitsap Food Bank serves 60 families per day. Near the end of each month that number climes closer to 90 families per-day.

“When families get food here, that helps them free up money for utilities, gas, rent and shelter,” Salki said.

South Kitsap Helpline distributes more than 90,000 pounds each month to about 4,000 clients. "We do drives where we will bring in 200 to 300 pounds of food, but we go through that in a couple of hours," she said. "This Save A Lot donation saved our bacon."

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