Semitruck of food to feed thousands of people in Grays Harbor and Olympic Peninsula

There’s a Bible verse that includes the words, “filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Well, it looks as though The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did just that with a sizable effort to help out seniors, children and families in Grays Harbor County, and throughout the Olympic Peninsula.

All it took for the church to provide smiles to the grateful volunteers serving North Beach Senior Center was a 900-mile drive from the church’s location, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The song, “I would walk 500 miles” from The Pretenders comes to mind.

On Wednesday morning, Aug. 3, the church was responsible for the shipment of a 53-foot semitruck filled with nonperishable food and other items, which arrived at the doorstep of North Beach Senior Center of Ocean Shores (NBSC,) according to Miriam Jones, communications director for the Elma Washington State of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The semitruck was full of 24 pallets of nonperishable items that equated to about 40,000 pounds, including canned corn, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, pork and beans, as well as laundry detergent, dish soap, and more.

Jeff Moyer, executive director for NBSC, told The Daily World that it all started because of a call for peanut butter.

“Two months ago, I started working on this and I never imagined it would be this,” Moyer said. “All I wanted was some peanut butter.”

Moyer, who does everything from cleaning bathrooms to driving trucks and forklifts, said how the peanut butter shortage stemmed from supply chain issues, the same issues that have plagued the nation.

Moyer said two missionaries from the church help NBSC. Moyer explained how he knew the church provides aid to their members if needed. So, he reached out to the church.

After a couple of calls, “it just went up the ladder from there,” Moyer said.

“Once they found out what we were doing, they offered us a commodities truck, which we received this morning,” Moyer said.

According to Moyer, the shipment that arrived Wednesday morning will go out to thousands of people.

“It’s a miracle and it’s all because we needed peanut butter,” Moyer said.

Jones said she’s “excited” Moyer reached out to the church, and that the church has always had a reputation of donating where there’s a need.

“The church does everything from growing the food out of the ground, processing (it) at the plant, and taking care of everyone,” said Jones of the church. “They will deliver to everyone who requests, and people just aren’t aware of it.”

Moyer said he attempted to get a financial grant, but once he heard about the commodities truck the church could provide, he was happy to take the load.

“I’ll take the food, because we do have trouble sourcing it right now,” Moyer said. “It’s an awesome thing … that truck started out two days ago and got here this morning.”

Moyer said NBSC is no longer a “traditional” senior center. Since the pandemic, it does food distribution.

Currently, NBSC does summer meal programs for children, which consists of delivering seven days worth of self-sustainable food — breakfast, lunch, and snacks — to the children’s homes. They deliver to the homes of 250 families once a week.

Moyer said at the start of the pandemic, NBSC partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Farmers to Families Food Box program, where NBSC received a 53-foot truck every weekend with 1,100 boxes of produce and dairy.

“We not only took care of the community — that being Ocean Shores and the surrounding (area) — but we also went to seven different counties with food,” Moyer said.

Since then, NBSC also started partnering with Seattle-based Food Lifeline, Save the Children Foundation, Seabrook Community Foundation and Thurston County Food Bank.

“They’re involved in so many food organizations, and I can’t keep them all straight,” Jones said.

Moyer said the volunteers at the church are awesome and how portions of the food NBSC received Wednesday morning have already been picked up by a few Grays Harbor-area organizations, as well as individuals in need of food.

“We’ve just begun,” Moyer said. “I believe we’ll be distributing probably to several food banks in Aberdeen and Hoquiam, (and) maybe as far as Elma and Montesano, I’m not sure yet. I have to reach out. Some of it might go to the (local) tribes.”

Moyer said NBSC takes care of whoever is in need. The center doesn’t require documentation, which makes it easier to serve those who may not want to share their documentation, or who may not have documentation.

Moyer said NBSC’s plan was to go to Neah Bay on Thursday morning, Aug. 4, in order to deliver 160 summer meal boxes for the children’s families there.

“We have a pretty good reach,” Moyer said. “All from the generosity of our partners. It’s a wonderful thing.”

Moyer said he can’t say enough about the volunteers at NBSC, which is an “all-volunteer” organization.

“Everybody (who) volunteers at our place is because they’re trying to take care of the people who need it,” Moyer said. “That’s the bottom line.”