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Second Harvest Mobile Market food distribution brings long line of cars in Othello

by CASEY MCCARTHY
Staff Writer | October 22, 2020 1:00 AM

OTHELLO — Second Harvest’s Mobile Market saw a long line of cars come out to Othello High School on Tuesday morning for their free food distribution event.

Boxes of a variety of different food items were distributed to families and Othello community members who came out for the event on Tuesday. More than 100 cars were lined up before the event started at 10 a.m., with Second Harvest able to distribute the majority of the items they’d brought in the first hour.

Reagran Lara is the nutrition education manager with Second Harvest and was one of a few employees helping to coordinate the Mobile Market in Othello on Tuesday. Lara said it seems like there have been a multitude of cars coming out everywhere they have been the past few months.

“We notice right away when we get here that there’s usually about 100 cars, sometimes there’s a little less,” Lara said. “But once we make our presence known, that’s when everyone comes out for sure.”

Lara said they were fortunate to not have to turn anyone away yesterday morning, with everyone that came out able to at least get something from the food distribution. She said they would stay there until they got rid of every last drop of food available.

A variety of items was available for people coming out on Tuesday. Boxes of produce included onions, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes, with bananas and strawberries as well. Dairy boxes consisted of cheese, sour cream, heavy creamer, a half-dozen eggs and a gallon of milk. Tyson chicken, taco meat, pasta, wheat flour and bagels were also distributed.

Having a wide range of items available at the Mobile Market is something they strive for, Lara said. Tyson Foods donated the chicken, strawberries and bananas were donated by Walmart, and a variety of other sponsors helped with the other items as well.

The need for events such as this is something she said Second Harvest feels dearly, thanks in large part to the number of calls and requests from communities for assistance.

“We get a lot of calls, a lot of people on Facebook and social media asking when we’re gonna be there, kind of cries for help because they’re really desperate,” Lara said. “We’ll have cities that reach out to us, school districts that reach out to us. It’s a really important thing that we don’t see the need has gone any. If anything, it’s increased.”

Lara said she doesn’t anticipate the number of requests going down anytime soon. She said Second Harvest will continue to provide the Mobile Market distributions as long as they have the funding available during the pandemic.

Additional Mobile Markets in Othello are already scheduled for November and December. Other distributions are planned as well around Grant County and Central Washington before the end of the year. This week alone will have four distributions for Second Harvest, with Ellensburg on Wednesday, Yakima on Thursday, and Prosser on Friday.

“During the summer, it was sporadic, maybe once a week here, one a week there,” Lara said. “Now, it’s three or four times a week.”

Washington Army National Guard members and a slew of volunteers came out to help with the distribution on Tuesday. Lara said the help from the National Guard, both on the ground and in preparation for events, has been key in helping everything run smoothly this summer and fall.

Fifteen National Guard members and seven volunteers were out on Tuesday, and she said that’s about the size of a crew that’s needed to make these events possible.

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Casey McCarthy/The Sun Tribune

Alex Valdez with Second Harvest, left, and National Guard member Mackenzie Shepherd, right, compile together items to be distributed at the Second Harvest Mobile Market in Othello on Tuesday.

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Casey McCarthy/The Sun Tribune

Jairzino Andrade, left, a member of the Washington Army National Guard, assists with getting items together during the Second Harvest Mobile Market food distribution in Othello on Tuesday.

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Casey McCarthy/The Sun Tribune

Omar Beltran, a volunteer with the Washington Army National Guard, helps load food items into the back of a car at the Second Harvest Mobile Market food distribution in Othello.

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Casey McCarthy/The Sun Tribune

Alex Valdez, front left, with Second Harvest, and Washington Army National Guard member Mackenzie Shepherd, front right, compile together fruit items for distribution at the Second Harvest Mobile Market in Othello on Tuesday.

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Casey McCarthy/The Sun Tribune

Washington Army National Guard Sgt. Emmanuel Torres, takes a momentary break between cars at the Second Harvest Mobile Market food distribution in Othello on Tuesday.