|Fishline customer Allen Alexander, of Poulsbo, shops for produce Tuesday. Photo by: Larry Steagall|
POULSBO — North Kitsap Fishline nearly doubled in size Tuesday morning when it opened the doors to its new Poulsbo location. The nonprofit, which provides food, housing assistance and other resources to community members in need, is now in the 5,500-square-foot building on Liberty Lane that once housed Poulsbo RV. The old location, along a one-way section of Third Avenue, was 3,100 square feet, according to Executive Director Mary Nader. The shopping market area for clients is three times bigger, going from 400 square feet to 1,200 square feet.
Before its 10 a.m. opening Tuesday, volunteers helped unload food trucks as the sun shined through windows from the bay doors brightening the market and nearby storage areas. While clients and volunteers rave about the building space and its cheery feel, clients are especially happy with the available parking. The old location had six parking spots, while the new site has at least 60 with room for loading trucks. “The parking is a big thing and the bathrooms for the little kids,” said Allen Alexander, a Fishline client. The Third Avenue location did not have a public restroom, but the new building has a restroom in the front lobby for clients as well as a second one for staff and volunteers.
Alexander, who volunteered at local food banks decades ago, now is retired and struggles to make his fixed Social Security income meet his basic needs, like many retirees, he said. He praised Fishline and its volunteers for making the smaller site, where it had been since 1999, work so well.
“We were really squeezed in before. We just worked around it together,” Alexander said.
Since 2008, Fishline has seen demand for services double, causing its former location to feel a little smaller each year. It serves about 130 families a day, distributing between 5,000 and 7,000 pounds of food.
“You were knocking into each other. It wasn’t (Fishline’s) fault. It was just so tiny,” said Nancy Satterlee, another Fishline client. “I think people are happier now.”
Nader acknowledged the physical limitations of the old site, which prompted the nonprofit’s move, she said.
It wasn’t just the market that was cramped. Office space was limited, and there was no place to meet privately with clients, Nader said. Food preparation areas were tight. Walkways were limited to one person at a time. Food had to be stored off-site at three locations and volunteers had to toss bags of potatoes and wheel boxes of onions out of the way before a staff meeting could take place.
Now, Fishline has administrative office space as well as meeting space for staff and clients.
The nonprofit also will be able to offer clients a resource center with computer and Internet access, Nader said.
This article was originally posted on Kitsap Sun.