Pierce County food bank fire leaves 300 families looking elsewhere for supplies

A Spanaway food bank that serves 1,100 people a month suffered a fire early Friday morning that potentially destroyed its entire food stock and its building.

Needy families, unaware of the fire, were showing up all day at the Spanaway Food Bank located at 16001 A St. S., said director Harold Smith.

“The folks count on it,” he said. “We’re not sure where we’re going to go.”

Clients were being sent to other food banks, Smith said.

“The first step is just to make sure that the people who come here have a place to go,” he said. “Other than that, I’m devastated.”

The food bank has operated for over 40 years.

“We’re destroyed at this point,” Smith said.

Unknown cause

The fire was reported around 6 a.m. Friday.

Central Pierce Fire & Rescue spokesman Darrin Shaw said the structure was “heavily involved in fire” when crews arrived.

The complex is made up of six portable structures. At least one of those is a total loss, Shaw said.

The food bank’s food stock might not be to be salvaged, both Shaw and Smith said. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department would make the final determination, Smith said.

The food bank’s refrigerators and freezers were lost in the fire, Smith said.

Families come to the food bank once or twice a month, Smith said. The facility hands out 15,000 pounds of food per month.

The food bank is staffed entirely by volunteers from Spanaway Lutheran Church, Spanaway United Methodist Church, Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church and Bethany Lutheran Church.

The cause of the fire had not been determined by Friday afternoon, Shaw said.

Where to donate food, money

Clients and providers of Spanaway Food Bank were urged to call the Emergency Food Network on Friday at 253-584-1040.

Emergency Food Network CEO Michelle Douglas said her organization serves 80 food resource sites in Pierce County, including the Spanaway Food Bank.

Her group’s staff and website can direct clients to an alternative food bank. In addition, monetary donations made to the Spanaway Food Bank will be held by the Food Network until the food bank is able to use them.

“We’re just setting the money aside,” Douglas said.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.