Author: Elias Piña

Becky Johnson, food pantry director

This month’s Agency Spotlight shares the story of North Bridge Food Bank, one of our partner agencies located in Otis Orchards. Providing a welcoming space for clients is one task that they’ve continued to fine-tune over the last year.

Since taking over a year ago, Food Pantry Director Becky Johnson has transitioned the North Bridge Food Bank into a grocery store-like experience — featuring shelves labeled and organized like what one would find in a supermarket — and a rotating seasonal theme.

“I wanted to come up with a way to improve the flow for our clients going through the food pantry so that those in line weren’t standing out in the weather for a long time,” Johnson shared. “I did a lot of rearranging of tables and racks, and a church volunteer built more shelves for our canned goods.”

These shelves are filled with food received from weekly Second Harvest deliveries or from pickups at a participating Grocery Rescue store partner. With this support, North Bridge Food Bank has been able to provide food for over 600 families from 1-3:30 p.m. every Thursday. “Our partnership with Second Harvest has been fantastic. The staff are so kind and easy to work with, and we so appreciate them keeping our food pantry well stocked for our clients,” said Johnson.

Utilizing volunteer help to create signage and rearrange the pantry, Johnson has created a welcoming and familiar environment for clients that allows them to easily find foods they’d like to add to their carts. Clients can visit the Old Western Mercantile-themed shelf for a selection of canned items, breeze by the produce section for fresh fruits and vegetables, or stop by the bakery shelves to pick up bread and other baked treats.

North Bridge Food Bank has focused on keeping clients safe in unpleasant weather and throughout the pandemic. During the cold winter months, staff assign numbers to arriving clients to allow them to wait in the comfort of their cars. Volunteers allow five clients into the store at a time to allow for social distancing.

Whether it’s stocking the shelves, adjusting their distribution service or helping clients shop, the folks at North Bridge Food Bank cherish the opportunity to “see happy clients leave with a feeling of peace because they have enough food for the week.”

Feeding Eastern Washington and North Idaho

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