News

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin
July 15th

More free face masks will be given out Thursday at three locations.

The reusable cloth masks, meant for local residents who can’t afford to purchase the state-mandated facial coverings, will be distributed from 9-11 a.m. at the following spots:

  • Lions Park, 2100 Tacoma St.
  • Washington Park, 700 W. Cherry St., near the splash pad.
  • Lincoln High School, 421 S. Fourth St., front entrance

Blue Mountain Action Council is again heading the distribution of about 3,000 masks, said Kathy Covey, executive director of the nonprofit.


The face coverings are part of the 36,000 masks received by Walla Walla County Emergency Management, the county’s allotment of the 3.6 million masks procured through Washington state on behalf of residents with low incomes.


That amounts to about $52,400 a year for a family of four, though income verification will not be required for the giveaway.


The goal is that each person in those households get two of the free masks, so that one can be washed while the other is in use, Covey said.


The face coverings are packaged into baggies that will also contain information on filling out the 2020 census forms, she added.


Census work had come to an almost complete halt, with plans for community outreach — like a fairgrounds booth — largely stopped by COVID-19. But workers are continuing to call families to remind them of the importance of completing the forms, Covey said.

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BMAC Food Bank: A quick COVID-19 response report for April 2020.


During the last month (March 21 to April 18) BMAC has directly provided 9,653 people with 93,678 meals worth of food. On average that is 3.5 day’s worth of food per person served once per week.

In Walla Walla County, BMAC is now directly providing 3.5 days of food assistance to 5% of the population every week. Three other pantries are also operating in Walla Walla County and receiving food from BMAC.

In Columbia County, BMAC is now directly providing 3.5 days of food assistance to over 10% of the population every week. No other pantry is currently operational in Columbia County.

On April 18th 2020, BMAC and the National Guard served 647 households almost 30,000 pounds of food. Packed in the April 18th box (as shown to the right) was bananas, grapefruit, asparagus, tomatoes, tuna, peanut butter, sweet potato fries, onions, potatoes, oranges, frozen peas, split peas, spaghetti pasta, spaghetti sauce, canned mixed vegetables, grapes, toilet paper, raisins, bread, canned pork, pretzels, and orange juice. Boxes change weekly. 

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BMAC Food Bank with the National Guard is now completing weekly food distributions as follows.

Walla Walla Drive Through Food Bank
Every Saturday from 11:00 AM -1:00 PM
Location: BMAC Food Bank, 921 E. Cherry St. Walla Walla, WA 99362

Dayton Drive Through Food Bank
Every Tuesday from 2:00 PM -4:00 PM
Location: Columbia County Fairgrounds

Burbank Drive Through Food Bank
Every Wednesday from 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Location: Burbank Grange, 44 N 4th

Touchet Drive Through Food Bank
Every Wednesday from 1:00 PM - 2:00PM
Pomona Grange, 1st and Touchet-Gardenna Rd


BMAC anticipates conducting weekly drive-through food distributions in Prescott soon. 

BMAC, like many others, is scaling back where we can to maintain the health and safety of our community. We will continue to serve clients but we just need to do it a little differently and ask for your patience as we shift to an over the phone model. No client appointments will be conducted in person until further notice but we are here to serve you over the phone or via email. 

Our main phone line will be monitored during normal business hours, Monday - Thursday 8:30 am - 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm and Friday 8:30 am - 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm. 

The following departments will operate over the phone until further notice: 

Energy Assistance
Homeless Assistance
Supportive Services For Veteran Families
Pro Bono Lawyer Referral
Home Weatherization/Minor Home Repair
Ombuds
Commitment 2 Community


The following departments are temporarily on hold until further notice:

Adult Literacy Tutoring
Job Training


Assistance Available In Person:

Food Assistance to low-income households is available at the BMAC Food Bank. Drive Through Mobile Food Banks will operate each Saturday from 11:00am-1:00pm at 921 W. Cherry St.


It's important to us that we can continue to get you the essential services you need. Please call our main number for, 509-529-4980 or email the following contacts to get your questions answered:


General Information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Support for Veterans: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Homeless Support Services: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Energy Assistance: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

BMAC Housing Properties/Home Repair/Weatherization: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Food Assistance: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pro Bono Lawyer Referral: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Donations or Outreach: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Questions for our CEO: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Greetings friends,

Like most people, businesses and organizations, we are evaluating and reacting to the ever-evolving COVID 19 public health crisis. At this time, we’re reviewing our dozen programs and assessing how we can continue to serve our clients, while keeping our staff safe. Prioritizing the safety and health of our community is a paramount concern.

Many of you have asked what you can do to support BMAC right now and for that, we are so grateful.

• If you are a client or volunteer and are not feeling well or have someone in your home who is sick, we ask that you please stay home.

• Because of our amazing community, the Food Bank has all the volunteers it needs for this moment and we’ll let you know if that need changes.

• The Food Bank will continue to accept food donations but we encourage people to do so only if you have a stockpile, but NOT if you would need to go to a store with already limited resources.

• If you’d like to donate, please visit bmacww.org. We are asking you to consider a gift to our General Fund so that we can designate that money to the most critically important programs.


BMAC Operating Schedule for the Week of 3/16/20:

• Our lobby will be closed to the public beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17th and we will be seeing clients on an appointment only basis Tuesday and Wednesday.

• Our original plans to close our current office and move to our new location at 8 E. Cherry St. will still take place on Thursday, 3/19 and Friday, 3/20.

• Our new building will open on an appointment only basis starting Monday, March 23rd.

As soon as it’s safe, we look forward to taking walk ins, welcoming you to our new building and operating business as usual. Our executive team will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement as we work hard to serve our nearby communities.

BMAC and regional growers cook up plans for food hub

 



Blue Mountain Action Council’s food bank could play a key role in a regional food hub.Facebo The Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank and a cluster of regional growers will begin separate efforts this year on what they eventually hope merges into a local food hub.

After 18 months of study made possible with a federal grant, the food hub concept that would get more fresh produce into local homes and also build new value-added products from locally farmed produce is taking shape.

A joint effort between BMAC and its food bank as well as about 10 regional organizations has led to a vision: expansion of the Cherry Street food bank to distribute more produce to clients and tie into a greater value-added project that kicks off with a pilot program of locally made salsa and hot sauce.

Details of the concept — including study findings — are being shared in a “Next Steps” meeting today at the Walla Walla Regional Airport conference room.

Arrowleaf Consulting, which led the study process, will present findings, feasible models, the value-added component and need for an education component, according to an announcement.

This is a step in a long process that formally kicked off September 2018 with the award of $133,566 to BMAC as part of the USDA’s Local Food Promotion Program Grant.

The idea was to look at the needs of the area and explore where — from Dayton to Pendleton — a food hub would best serve the region. The shared goal was to better feed the public while also maximizing production of local farms, particularly with robust gleaning programs in place.

The process concluded that Walla Walla worked best as a central location and the expansion of the existing food bank spot as more feasible than a whole new operation.

Meanwhile, a cluster of growers — Frog Hollow Farm, Hayshaker Farm, Welcome Table Farm and Miles Away Farm — under the umbrella “Walla Walla Grown” will forge ahead seeking grants for a “proof of concept” small-production run of fresh salsa and fermented hot sauce.

If the ideas work, the eventual merger will bring together an expanded food bank that can process and distribute refrigerated foods beyond the shelf-stable offerings for which it’s most known, along with space for creation of the specialty foodline that can use the produce that would otherwise go to waste.


“In terms of how it pencils out, we don’t know yet,” said Jennifer Kleffner, owner of Miles Away Farm.

She said planning for the next cycle of grants will take place at the meeting. Walla Walla Grown is working on finding a rental space to start its small production run. The model is intended to maximize the use of produce while feeding more people and supporting farms all in one process.

“If you want to have a big impact, you have to meet people where they are,” she said.

Kleffner said the food bank would likely need to double in size for the joint operation.

Jeff Mathias, executive director of the BMAC Food Bank, said a request is in the works for $500,000 from the Legislature for capacity infrastructure grants. On a national level, a Farm to Food Bank program may be another resource to help move forward.

First though, BMAC will be on the move to its new headquarters on Second Avenue, Mathias said. The food bank will remain in its spot, but the move for BMAC is a primary focus at the moment.

He said starting small on each end will help lead to the longer-term vision.

“They’ll start small on their own and then hopefully — cross our fingers — we’ll meet back in a couple of years and be able to merge what they’re doing on their own and what the food bank’s doing,” Mathias said.

“We’ve got the same goals: more vegetables and produce in the community.”

Registration for today’s meeting is required and available by calling 509-524-5218. Information is also available through the Walla Walla Valley Food System Coalition site at wwvfsc.org.


Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 509-526-8321.









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