Long-time Montesano Food Bank volunteer Doug Iverson has recently taken over as director of the nonprofit. He replaces Lynn Kiser who helmed the food bank for decades.
Iverson guessed he’s been volunteering with the food bank for about 13 years, though he can’t quite remember exactly when he started. He and wife Molly moved to Montesano in 1976 from Elma where they’d spent the previous five years.
“Nobody was really interested in stepping up. They liked the role they had,” Iverson said of how he ended up as director.
“She’s incredible,” Iverson added of his predecessor, Kiser. “She’s had significant health issues for a number of years. She has talked about stepping down for years…This time she was serious.”
Asked what kind of a commitment heading the food bank entails, Iverson said it can become a significant one. He explained he’s just getting acclimatized to the administrative side of things, though he’s been doing the ordering for the past several months. The food bank gets its stock through hunger relief agencies Northwest Harvest and Coastal Harvest, as well as by purchasing from area grocers and through individual donations.
As for what’s best to donate, Iverson says anything protein-related is always needed, including peanut butter, beans, chili, canned meals, ravioli and spaghetti. In terms of what not to donate, the food bank is unable to accept anything that’s opened or dented.
“We have to err on the side of caution,” Iverson says.
Right now is the busiest time of year for the food bank with both the holidays and Food Bowl — the food bank’s major annual fundraiser — taking place. This year more than 180 Thanksgiving baskets, which were purchased from the Montesano Pick Rite Thriftway at a loss to the store, were handed out.
Montesano students are scheduled to bring the Food Bowl donations they collect to the food bank on Dec. 12. It’s always a hectic time, Iverson indicated.
“There’ll be typically around 16,000 pounds,” he said, describing how the food fills the food bank building on West Spruce Avenue from back to front. It takes a group of jail trustees and volunteers about six hours to sort through it all, Iverson added.
Currently the food bank maintains about 20 volunteers.
“They’re wonderful,” Iverson said of his fellow volunteers. “You don’t have to tell them what to do. They anticipate and just do it.”
Among those volunteers is Lynn Kiser, who has been involved with the food bank since the mid-1980s, becoming director in 1991. She grew up in Tacoma and moved to Montesano with her husband in 1971.
“It makes you feel good to help people, and so that’s just what I keep coming back for,” she told The Vidette.
Kiser explained she’s stepping down for health reasons, mostly because she can’t do the necessary paperwork anymore due to vision issues. She said, however, that she will continue to volunteer for as long as she can.
“People need to know that their donations are greatly appreciated and that the money that we get is greatly appreciated, because that way we can spend money on things that we don’t always get,” Kiser said, “Things that people don’t always have.” Kiser went on to specifically mention peanut butter, biscuit mix and laundry soap as being among the items the food bank often needs to purchase.
Asked about handing over the reins to Iverson, Kiser quipped: “Doug used to call me ‘boss lady’ and now I’m calling him ‘boss man.’”