The Bischoff FISH food bank in downtown Key Center is reducing its hours of operation significantly.
In March 2011, when the food bank was located at the Key Peninsula Lutheran Church, Wally Haugaard, the manager, signed a contract with FISH in order to gain access to more sources to feed the growing number of people in need on the Key Peninsula.
“We signed the contract subject to FISH’s promise that we would continue to operate the food bank in a manner which would best serve our KP residents,” Haugaard said. “We were specifically to retain control over the days and hours of operation.”
The FISH food bank has been open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday since its move to Key Center in March 2013.
On July 9, 2013, Beth Elliott, the executive director of FISH, met with Haugaard and informed him that the food bank hours were reduced to four hours per day on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday effective Aug. 1. Elliott also told Haugaard that his resignation was expected because she knew that this change would not be acceptable to Haugaard.
Haugaard immediately resigned, as expected.
Sandy Roszman, the president of the FISH board of directors, indicated that the board had considered and decided upon the change, but Elliott later acknowledged that she implemented the decision on her own initiative under the authority granted to her in the FISH bylaws.
Elliott and Roszman both said that the change was made to appease one of the tenants along the driveway easement going from Key Pen Highway to the building occupied by the food bank.
“We want to be good neighbors, with the best relations possible,” Roszman said. “There was also a desire to standardize our hours with operations at our other food banks.”
“This change really makes no sense. All of our workers are unpaid volunteers. It costs nothing more to be open the longer hours,” Haugaard said.
Roszman said the board understands that its volunteers are very committed, caring and compassionate. “We are trying to use our resources to best meet the needs of the community and that’s a tough task,” she said.
The Key Center-based food bank is manned completely by non paid volunteers. They mobilized, with 12 making a surprise appearance at the monthly FISH board of directors meeting on July 17.
Kimberly Miller, the acting volunteer coordinator (Haugaard’s replacement), gave a heartfelt plea to reconsider the board’s decision to reduce hours, citing numerous specific examples where seniors and disabled citizens, persons working multiple jobs for minimum wage, persons without public or private transportation are unable to obtain needed food for themselves and their family under the shortened hours.
Emails were exchanged and a final decision was made on July 24 that the food bank will be open to the public from 2 to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
During the month of May, the food bank served 3,134 families, with a total of 10,117 family members, some coming from Kitsap County.
The Bischoff FISH food bank is not affiliated with the food bank operated by the Key Peninsula Community Services and Senior Center near Home.
The food bank is located at 8908 Key Peninsula Highway and can be contacted by calling 858-7226