A lot of freezers are going to be stocked Wednesday thanks to the generosity of a local business.
Shop’n Kart Fuller’s Market Place in Centralia will be giving out about $35,000 worth of frozen food to the public from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Employees and some of their family members began working Saturday to fill plastic bags with 12 frozen items apiece. Anything from vegetables to ice cream could be in a given sack.
Adults that line up outside a large, refrigerated truck in the Fuller’s parking lot will be handed one at random on a first come, first serve basis.
“We’ve given away other things, like through our students of the week program, but nothing like this,” said Alesha McDaniel, vice president of Shop’n Kart. “We’ve been part of the local community since 1990 and we want to show our appreciation to the longstanding, loyal customers that have been part of our family for decades.”
McDaniel said the store was able to obtain the food for the giveaway as part of a warehouse consolidation process. She estimated the items will fill about 2,000 bags by the time they’re finished breaking down the more than 20 pallets of frozen food.
Chrystal Zelazny, the point of sale manager for Shop’n Kart, said the only comparable effort she could think of was the annual competition between the Chehalis and Centralia locations to see which could donate more to charity around the holidays.
The Shop’n Kart location at Yard Birds in Chehalis closed last summer after 27 years in business. The store in Westport remains open.
Zelazny and other staff members held a roundtable meeting on Monday to go over the logistics of Wednesday’s event.
The plan is to have two lines leading up to the truck in a cordoned off area, so as to not disrupt traffic to and from the store, which is located at 505 S. Tower Avenue.
Employees will also receive the same plastic bag full of frozen food, without having to stand in line. A few employees and their children were hard at work Monday afternoon in the back of the store, stuffing bags with frozen vegetables, potatoes and dinner rolls.
“We’ve had employees volunteering to come in on their days off just to help,” McDaniel said. “It’s entirely an internal operation.”
The giveaway represents an opportunity for all local residents, particularly those less well off, to add a temporary boost to their diets.
More than 22 percent of Centralia residents live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The national nonprofit Feeding America estimates that nearly 40 percent of people that live in poverty also suffer from food insecurity, meaning they don’t have consistent access to healthy food.
Nearly 70 percent of students in Centralia School District 401 qualified for free or reduced meals in May 2017, according to the district website.
“I’m sure there will be a huge line of people,” Zelazny said. “I’ve worked with Shop’n Kart for many years and I know how much of an effort they put into being part of the community.”