LAKEWOOD, Wash. - The 'FISH' food bank in Lakewood says its seeing a large increase in the number of military families in need of help. Coordinators at the food bank, which is three miles from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, say the increase is coming from families who live on and off post.
"It's surprising," says Marcus Stoll, coordinator of the food bank in Lakewood. "I'll do whatever I can to help my soldiers."
Between 120 and 180 families line up to use the food bank three days per week. Stoll estimates 15-20 percent are now military families. He says more soldiers are returning home and saying their dollar doesn't stretch as far as it used to.
"I don't have a dollar to my name," says Frances Anderson. Her husband is active duty at JBLM but says she needs the food bank once a week to feed the two of them and their son.
"My husband is embarrassed because he doesn't feel that we should have to be here," she says. "The economy is terrible. I just tell the people on post that I need help and they just look at me like I'm crazy."
JBLM offers a housing allowance to families who live off post and offer programs to help those who are going through tough financial times.
Stoll says overall demand in Lakewood is up about 90 percent.
FISH Food Banks of Pierce County have seen a slight increase in donations but because demand is so high, they are having a tough time keeping up.
For more information on how to help, visit their website at http://www.fishfoodbanks.org/