Treasure House deals with food bank shortages

Thrift store sales also decrease

Faye Schanilec, a volunteer, sorts donations at the Inter-Faith Treasure House food bank. The Treasure House provides 45,000 to 65,000 pounds of food a month for area families. That includes monthly food boxes, USDA commodities, a backpack home program for children on weekends and meals served at the Lost & Found Cafe. Public and private donations have decreased, and the Treasure House no longer receives goods from the Oregon Food Bank. ìWe need food,î said Treasure House Executive Director Nancy Wilson. “Our shelves are very empty now.”

Thrift store sales also decrease

There are some empty shelves at the Inter-Faith Treasure House, of Camas/Washougal, and Executive Director Nancy Wilson is hoping area residents will help fill them.

“We’re really short on food,” she said. “If people would just buy one or two extra cans, it would make a lot of difference here in our little town.

“We appreciate one can, two cans, a sackful,” Wilson added.

During a recent visit, the shelves for tomato sauce and tuna were depleted, while the supply of peanut butter and almond butter was reduced.

“We are trying to purchase more food to make up the difference, but the sales in the thrift store are also down,” Wilson said.

The Treasure House feeds approximately 2,000 people each month through several programs. They include monthly food boxes, USDA commodities, a backpack home program for children on weekends and the Lost and Found Cafe.

“They are hungry and looking for food,” Wilson said.

The Treasure House is the primary food bank for Camas and Washougal. Donations of non-perishable food can be taken to the thrift store, at 91 “C” St., Washougal, Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. An outdoor donation station is also available behind the store.

The backpack food program is for qualifying students at Helen Baller Elementary and Liberty Middle schools.

The Treasure House receives some of its food from the Clark County Food Bank, while other donations come from area businesses. Mary Jane’s House of Glass, of Washougal, and its customers donated 400 pounds of food in September. Grocery Outlet, in Camas, has several food drives throughout the year.

The West Columbia Gorge Humane Society, in Washougal, provides nourishment for the pets of food box clients.

Revenues from the thrift store cover the overhead costs of the Treasure House and help fund its outreach programs. The store sells clothing and shoes for men, women and children, as well as DVDs and CDs, books, toys, games, jewelry, watches, Halloween costumes and home decor.

In addition to the Lost and Found Cafe and the backpacks of food for children, outreach programs include emergency help with rent, electricity and water. The Treasure House also provides school supplies, Christmas gifts and food, and a free store for children to shop for their parents during the Christmas season.

An annual food collection effort, “Stuff the Bus,” is organized by the Camas-Washougal Business Alliance. Last year, the 85,120 pounds of food from the annual competition between the Camas and School districts went to the East County Resource Center/Children’s Home Society, the Christmas Activities Relief Organization Limited program and American Legion Post 122, which provides holiday meals for local families.

Stephen Frye, president of the CWBA, said the alliance started the Stuff the Bus effort primarily to help the East County Resource Center.

“Their ability to supply much needed food and other everyday products to needy families in the area was becoming harder every year, and their store of food was nearly almost non-existent,” he said. “We added the C.A.R.O.L. program, because it was already in place and it made sense to double our efforts and help both services.”

Frye said since the involvement of “Stuff the Bus,” the C.A.R.O.L. program has more than doubled the number of families it can help, and the Children’s Home Society is stocked for the needs of local families.

“The “Stuff the Bus” drive has grown large enough now that we can reach out to the Treasure House and again offer to share in the food we collect and help even more of the community,” he said.

Lost and Found Cafe seeks volunteer cooks

Meals are served Mondays and Thursdays, from 6 to 7 p.m., in the social hall at Zion Lutheran Church, 824 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas.

There is no cost, but donations are accepted.

Volunteer cooks are needed for Thursdays.

“We’ll train,” Wilson said.

For more information about the Treasure House or Lost and Found Cafe, call 834-4181 or email ifth91c@aol.com.