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Seattle charities seeing need for food, fuel assistance rise

The Salvation Army in Bellingham expected demand might decrease as the pandemic waned, but they instead have seen the opposite.

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — The Salvation Army's food bank in Bellingham was popular from the moment it opened. But while they expected they might see a decrease in need as coronavirus cases decreased and workplaces physically re-opened, they have found the opposite: an increase in clients needing food, fuel and other forms of help. 

Once-full shelves of produce, meat and milk are emptied just an hour into the food bank's hours, with families stocking up on the week's needed groceries. Robyn Rose, a client and volunteer, says the Salvation Army's food bank has been a much-needed resource in a time when many other options were cut off. 

"Before COVID you could go five days a week and find somewhere offering a meal," Rose said. "But then everything hit and it's just changed, but because of the Salvation Army, they started a drive-up. It was an awesome thing, awesome thing."

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The Salvation Army in Bellingham said it's seen a huge influx of people in need of help.

"At the start of COVID, we were serving 500 people, three months ago we were around the 800 number, just last week we served 1,025 people, and that was just in one week," Salvation Army Lt. Chase Green said.

While Green said there may be many contributing factors, one is obvious to anyone who spends money.

"The cost of living is increasing every day," Green said. 

The most recent Consumer Price Index showed a 7.9% increase in food costs from 2021 to 2022. Gas has also seen a recent spike.

"That's a huge thing," Green said. "Every day we get asked by someone, 'can we help them out with gas?' Because it's something, they just can't get from their house to work or their house to here, so that's something we're currently working on."

They're committed to continuing to help and welcome donations and volunteers. To donate to the Salvation Army in Bellingham, click here.

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