People in Walla Walla represent a wide income range, including many who are struggling with poverty and food insecurity.
At the last meeting of the Interfaith Coalition on Poverty there was a wide-ranging discussion on this topic. At present there are several places where people can eat daily meals. Breakfast and supper are available at the Christian Aid Center. Free soup lunches are served at Pioneer Methodist, St. Paul’s Episcopal, First Congregational, New Beginnings and Good Neighbor.
Beyond the meals, there are three food pantries — at St. Vincent de Paul, Salvation Army and First Presbyterian. This is more than many other places in the state.
At the same time there are food recipients living in places lacking kitchens such as their cars so they can only use ready-to-eat foods. Other people don’t know how to prepare fresh foods and have trouble understanding how to use recipes, so education is needed.
The Salvation Army is building a new facility that will include a community kitchen, a place where those same people and others can get help learning how to cook food they’re grown or have been given. There are plans to prepare meals for some of the same clientele who go to the Christian Aid center and the soup lunches.
One other lack in the community surfaced at the ICP meeting. There is no community commercial kitchen. A commercial kitchen is open to the public to people who want to prepare food to sell.
While churches and other organizations in Walla Walla have approved kitchens meeting the standards of a commercial kitchen, they are privately owned. The closest commercial kitchens are in Pasco and Dayton.
It is good to learn that the Port of Walla Walla is considering sponsoring a commercial kitchen at the Jonathan M. Wainwright VA Medical Center. This would allow people to earn money selling food they’ve prepared, including caterers. More family-wage jobs in Walla Walla are always welcome.