I’ve joined other food bloggers in Oregon to Blog for Food, an online campaign being held during the month of February to benefit the Oregon Food Bank. In Eugene, many of us are thankful for the work done by the local Food for Lane County, which is one of the 20 regional food banks that receives USDA commodities and other resources from Oregon Food Bank. I’d like to help raise awareness — and even better — some funds for the statewide hub in our donated food network system.
The demographic of the hungry is changing. Demand has reached emergency levels already, with worse to come. Government and corporate donations are down, thanks to the economy, and with those cuts come dwindling supplies of cereals, grains, and beans — the stuff of life for hungry people.
And it goes without saying that when the providers can’t provide, the ones who need the provisions suffer. We all know people who have recently lost their jobs, and we’re all feeling the pinch. Statewide, food pantry visits are at an all-time high, with many people showing up for boxes for the first time.
These faces shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you — they’re your neighbors. The elderly lady who lives next door. The family down the street. The young woman trying to pay for college.
I’ve spoken with many people at food pantries throughout Lane County, and very few of them fit any preconceived notions about people relying on donated food. One woman cleans rooms at a local hotel. Another runs a day care. A grandmother raises her ten-year old grandson. A father and his son try to get by after his layoff from Weyerhaeuser. A retail manager can’t make ends meet before her new position starts. Another part-time manager can’t make ends meet, period. Musicians who play at Sam Bond’s and artists who sell their wares at the Saturday Market, waiters and waitresses whose hours (or jobs) have been cut…all of these people live at the margin of poverty, at best, and make up a huge percentage of the people living among us.
These are not exceptions but the rule for people I’ve met at food pantries in Lane County. All of these people are trying their hardest to fend for themselves and are very thankful that there’s a community resource that can help.
If you don’t know about the work done at Food for Lane County in Eugene, you should. It’s truly amazing. They glean food from restaurants and make hot meals for anyone who needs them at our local soup kitchens and in the summer for school children who play in local parks. They distribute all the food donated from drives, boxes, corporation and government sources. Oregon Food Bank coordinates the big food shipments for Food for Lane County, and without that hub, we’d be lost.
If you are able to make a financial contribution to Oregon Food Bank, please consider this drive and click here now to donate. You may also mail contributions to Oregon Food Bank, PO Box 55370, Portland, OR 97238. There are many, many people who will be grateful for your contribution, not the least of whom is me. Thank you so much.
Important: Be sure to write “Blog for Food” in the”Tribute Gift: In honor of:” space on the donation form if you make a donation on the OFB website. If you send in a check, please make a note that you’re supporting “Blog For Food” so the tallies will be made properly.
And: if you need food in Lane County, some information about how to get food boxes can be found here. If you are a senior, a family, or an individual struggling to make ends meet and/or think you might qualify, please don’t hesitate to call. The people are kind, efficient, and non-judgmental, and will get you the resources you need. The food pantries are located all over Eugene and other places in the county, and have a wide range of boxed and canned foods, plus bread, frozen meat, and dairy products. Some pantries have baby food, pet food and fresh vegetables and fruit, depending on availability. Some of the pantries are held in churches, but they don’t expect you to be a member of the congregation or religious. And know you will be treated with respect.
“Blog for Food” is a food drive created by two Portland food bloggers, Tami Parr at Pacific Northwest Cheese Project, and Kathleen Bauer at Good Stuff NW. You can see a list of participating blogs on Tami’s post about the drive. We’re trying to raise at least $5,000 in this monthlong drive.