Mission: Fund and manage an accessible Food Bank
Operate and promote successful Thrift Stores.
Involve the community as volunteers, donors, and recipients.
Just a short ride across the Puget Sound, on the quaint Whidbey Island you will find the Good Cheer Food Bank which has been serving the community since 1962. The Food Bank serves the South end of the Island that includes around 15,000 people, 4,600 of which use the services offered by the Food Bank. Much of the success and financial stability of the Food bank comes from two general thrift stores and one clothing thrift store, making up 67% of their funding. Good Cheer runs with the support of 14 staff members and around 400 volunteers. Their numbers have increased dramatically over the past several years, and remain high, with nearly 800 families a month accessing the Food Bank to help put food on the table.
An innovative part of the program is the system used to keep track of the amount each client receives each month. According to their website “Good Cheer has developed an innovative food points system which empowers clients to choose their own foods in a grocery-like setting using monthly points based upon household size. Selection of fresh produce is encouraged through low-points for these healthful items.” Each adult begins with 70 points a month and then an additional 10 points are added for each family members. This system allows clients to make choices and use “points” in place of money. This process brings dignity back to the process of visiting a food bank. While discussing this idea, a Good Cheer staff member said “Money does not create happiness. Choices create happiness.” This statement rings true at Good Cheer as clients walk around the Food bank with their shopping cart choosing the items that best fit their needs and wants.
An on-site garden, tended with great community involvement, provides fresh-picked produce. The garden has been thriving for the past three years and produces around 5,000 pounds of produce annually. Fresh organic produce such as kale, blueberries, spinach and basil are picked from the garden and carried directly into the Food Bank. This partnership ensures that Good Cheer is offering healthy and high quality products to all their clients.
Good Cheer has a number of annual events to fundraise and also benefits from several smaller operations that have been developed by past and current volunteers. One faithful volunteer has taken up the art of extreme couponing and uses her skill to purchase large quantities of high quality products to put on the Food Bank shelves. The Gleeful Gleaners is a group of women who visit farms and pea patches to glean and bring their findings back to the Food Bank. Good Cheer’s efficiency and understanding of their clients needs has led them to be a successful and joy filled organization.