Queen Anne’s poor aided by food bank

Outside an old basement on the top of Queen Anne, several people surround a plastic trash bin with a sign that reads, "Food only, no trash please." These people are some of many who are waiting for their names to be called and to be handed groceries at the Queen Anne Foodbank.

While listening for their names, several people hover around the food bin, waiting for people coming out of the church next door to place non-perishable donated food in the bin.

The food sits at the bottom of the bin for only a few seconds before it’s taken out again. People argue for the food they want, but share generously with one another what they do not want.

This is the scene that develops every Wednesday night at the Queen Anne Foodbank, where in the course of two and a half hours, between 30 and 70 people receive donated food.

Queen Anne is a neighborhood in Seattle known for its wealth, but there are still people living in need of food, clothing and shelter.

Just across the street from the Foodbank, where old loaves of bread are given away, the Queen Anne Thriftway sells specialty breads for up to $4.29, and wines, locked inside a glass case, are priced up to $185.99.

In other parts of Queen Anne, scenes similar to that at the Queen Anne Foodbank unfold. On lower Queen Anne, CityTeam Ministries has an average of 60 men who eat and sleep in the shelter every night, according to Administrative Assistant Arlene Seeley.

The mission has few women come in because homeless women tend to find men to support them, Seeley said.

Other need-based organizations in Queen Anne are the Queen Anne Helpline and the Sacred Heart Shelter.

Among the people on Queen Anne who don’t go to shelters or food banks at the end of the day are those who return to homes along Galer Street, where apartments can be rented for up to $2,100 a month at the Queen Anne High School Apartments.

Theresa Butler, who has volunteered at the Queen Anne Foodbank for about a year, is familiar with the needs in Queen Anne because she lives in Lower Queen Anne and witnesses them daily.

Butler remembers seeing a man who slept under the trees across the street from the Queen Anne Foodbank last year.

"When you are homeless, you are in survival mode," Seeley said. "You need help."

When clients arrive at the Queen Anne Foodbank, they present picture identification and proof of address to receive food, according to Butler.

The people who come to the Queen Anne Foodbank arrive in wheelchairs, cars or on foot; some pull carts behind them. Some people came in pairs, but many come alone.

Some of the people who line up outside the Foodbank talk among themselves, some remain silent, and others chatter excitedly about the food that is piled in their arms.

Butler feels that due to layoffs since September, the Foodbank usage has increased. "It’s tripled since Sept. 11," Butler said.

Queen Anne Foodbank Coordinator Beth Perrie estimates that there are between 50 and 60 volunteers that work throughout the week.

Perrie says the Foodbank gets busy on Wednesday nights.

"It’s a lot of work to run this place," Butler said.

Although Bethany Presbyterian Church doesn’t charge the Foodbank rent or ask them to pay for utilities, it is the community members who run the Foodbank.

The Queen Anne Foodbank receives the majority of its funding and food donations from the community, with some government assistance.

Unlike the Queen Anne Foodbank, CityTeam Ministries gets no government aid because it is a Christian organization.

CityTeam Ministries, originally called Seattle Peniel Mission, is the oldest mission in Seattle, Seeley said.

This October, CityTeam Ministries will celebrate its 100th anniversary.

In 1998, CityTeam Ministries took over the mission and moved from First and Wall Street to Elliot Avenue, "to get to a place where drugs weren’t right outside the door," according to Seeley.

"Some residents of Queen Anne weren’t really happy when we moved here," Seeley said.

According to Seeley, some residents assumed that having a mission on Queen Anne would bring homeless people into the area, but in reality, the mission takes people off the streets.

The initial concern over having the mission in Queen Anne has subsided, and now the mission receives only occasional phone calls concerning homeless people being a nuisance in the area, Seeley said.

The people who come to CityTeam Ministries come from all over, according to Seeley. "They think Seattle is the land of opportunities," Seeley said. "They think they can get on a fishing boat tomorrow." But according to Seeley, it’s not so simple as that.

CityTeam Ministries also has a Mission Clinic.

The Mission Clinic is a recreational vehicle that has been transformed into a mobile clinic and is staffed by volunteers.

This mobile clinic often goes to Tent City, which moves to different locations or stays in Queen Anne.

CityTeam Ministries doesn’t just meet physical needs. Every night before dinner is served, there is a chapel service presented by different volunteer groups.

There is also an in-house discipleship program that consists of approximately 10 to 12 men who live at the mission. They perform jobs such as cooking meals and cleaning up afterwards.

"These are the guys who are trying to get their lives together," Seeley said.

The need-based organizations found throughout Queen Anne serve as a reminder that there are real needs in the neighborhood.

"The homeless are all over," Seeley said. "They’re in every community."

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Title: Queen Anne’s poor aided by food bank | Author: Carrie Petersen | Section: News | Published Date: 2002-04-24 | Internal ID: 2661