Eastside mayors join fight on hunger

In her address to community groups in Issaquah last week, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire said that people in the state were in a crisis unmatched since the Great Depression.

Rising rates of unemployment mean that more and more families were turning to social services and charitable organizations for their survival.

Requests for food at local food banks are up by almost 50 percent compared to 18 months ago.

This comes at a time when those who have been previously able to give so much are also counting their pennies in order to make their own end’s meet, and donations to food banks are down in many areas.

Aware of this crisis on their doorsteps, the mayors of both Issaquah and Sammamish have joined the leaders of other Eastside cities in a push to encourage everyone who is able to donate to their local food bank.

Expanding on the annual “Mayor’s Day of Concern for the Hungry” campaign sponsored by the Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle & King County, the cities will soon proclaim Sept. 26 through Oct. 24 as the “Eastside Month of Concern for the Hungry.”

The formal proclamations officially launch the “Share What You Can” campaign to benefit those served by local food banks and feeding programs.

The emphasis is to fill food bank shelves with nonperishable food items as the school season and autumn begins.

A survey of food bank clients found that almost half said they sometimes had to choose between paying for food and paying for rent or mortgage.

The campaign is a communitywide effort including Redmond, Kirkland, Sammamish, Issaquah, Bellevue and Mercer Island.

Neighborhood associations, community leaders, faith organizations, businesses, hospitals and schools are encouraged to rally by hosting food drives and fundraising events in their city.

Many grocery stores will be donation host sites on Saturday, Sept. 26, for the Day of Concern for the Hungry kick-off.

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