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Lower Columbia CAP hands out hundreds of Thanksgiving food boxes Monday

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Packing food boxes

Lower Columbia CAP employee Dominique Coker packs Thanksgiving food boxes to hand out Monday in Longview.

A steady stream of cars wound through the Lower Columbia CAP parking lot Monday morning, as Cowlitz County residents picked up boxes of Thanksgiving dinners.

Two CAP employees checked IDs and loaded boxes into back seats and trunks, while others packed boxes in the food bank warehouse. The organization had enough supplies for about 775 meals for county residents.

People used to sign up for the meals ahead of time, but the organization switched to a first-come, first-serve model a couple years ago, said Ilona Kerby, executive director.

Community organizations to hold Thanksgiving food giveaways, meals

Dominique Coker, a CAP employee preparing the meal boxes, said it was her first year working at the organization around Thanksgiving, and the handout was “definitely a process.”

“I enjoy it though,” she said. “Being able to help the community is good.”

Longview resident Sabrina, who declined to give her last name, made it to the front of the line around 11 a.m. She said she has noticed grocery prices increasing, and visits the food bank often.

“I think it’s really wonderful,” she said of the Thanksgiving meal boxes.

CAP Thanksgiving boxes

CAP employee Deena Lazard puts a Thanksgiving food box into a car Monday.

As of 11 a.m., CAP staff had handed out more than 200 boxes of stuffing, gravy, butter, rolls, and turkeys donated from Safeway’s Turkey Bucks program.

“We appreciate their partnership and all the shoppers that go in and contribute, because that’s what makes this happen is the generosity of the community and the insistence of local Safeways that whatever they raise stays here,” Kerby said.

Kerby said she expected the giveaway to be busier than the organization’s monthly commodities distribution as grocery prices have increased and people may be saving money for holiday gifts.

CAP’s HELP Warehouse is a collection and distribution center for Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties’ food banks and the distribution site for the U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities food boxes.

The boxes for qualifying residents typically include fruit, milk, eggs, frozen meat and nonperishable items like rice and beans.

At the height of the pandemic, about 1,200 families requested the food boxes, before numbers dropped back to about 400, according to CAP.

Rainier, Longview charity receives extra requests for Christmas presents

Kerby said the monthly handout may see an uptick in people if prices continue to rise. It’s unclear how rising prices may affect the organization’s budget, she said.

CAP is receiving similar food supply from the state and federal government, and isn’t anticipating a change at this point, Kerby said. Many food banks have reported an increase in food supply and variety from pandemic-relief programs or funding.

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