For more than 20 years, the Community Cupboard has provided important community services at their space at 219 14th street. These have included a food bank, a thrift store offering low-cost clothing and household items, and emergency assistance services for families in crisis situations. During this time, the City of Leavenworth has generously provided the space free of charge for these activities. However, at the end of 2019 the current lease ends, and the City plans to use that space to accommodate its growing public works operations across the street. The programs of the Community Cupboard will need to find a new home.
“As we look towards the future, this is both a challenge and a wonderful opportunity for us to continue the evolution of the Community Cupboard, which has always focused on meeting the basic needs of local residents,” said Kaylin Bettinger, Executive Director of Upper Valley MEND, which runs the Community Cupboard. The current location has been a great home for many years, and we can’t thank the City of Leavenworth enough for partnering with us to provide these critical services for so many years,”
For the last year, Upper Valley MEND staff, board and community members have worked together to determine the best course forward for the Community Cupboard. Taking into account input from hundreds of community members through surveys, focus groups and meetings, the MEND board determined that the Community Cupboard should split into two separate locations.
“Right now, we are actively looking for spaces to move the food bank, and we’ll move out of the current space as soon a suitable location is found,” Bob Mark said “The thrift store will move to a new location by the end of 2019. Separating the two services allows us to focus on creating the best possible model for each service.”
The food bank would like to implement more of a shopping-oriented model, where clients have more choice with the food items they take home each month. The thrift store would benefit from more space to offer an expanded range of goods and provide customers with an improved shopping experience. . Expanded space would also allow the thrift store to take more donations of household goods and clothing, which have traditionally been limited to a two-bag per day, due to limited storage and sorting space.
“Understandably, splitting up the food bank and thrift store will be an adjustment that may be difficult for some people,” said Community Cupboard Program Manager Bob Mark of the impending changes. “However, this situation might actually be a blessing in disguise. For a long time now we have been limited in our current space, both for the thrift store as well as the food bank. We’re busting at the seams. We are excited about the opportunity to create new spaces which can enhance the experience of our clients and customers, as well as our volunteers.”
Though the Cupboard food bank has historically been located in Leavenworth, it serves all residents of the Upper Wenatchee Valley. A review of client data shows that about 80 percent of the food bank clients live between Leavenworth and Dryden. To ensure the best service delivery for food bank clients, MEND is currently exploring locations in the areas between Leavenworth and Peshastin, which would provide central access to the majority of food bank clients.
Upper Valley MEND continues to welcome feedback on this process as they move forward. Executive Director Kaylin Bettinger and Community Cupboard Program Manager Bob Mark can be reached at (509) 548-0408 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.