Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Stuck in a freezer

Part of my day yesterday was to help get some food for the food pantry from the Oregon Food Bank (OFB). If you haven't had the chance to see the OFB's warehouse, let me paint you a picture. It's essentially very similar to Ikea's warehouse but with food. And it includes two walk in freezers (one for dairy and the other for produce). Getting boxes of produce from the freezer was an interesting process because you had to walk in and close the door of the freezer before anything else, as to not warm up the area. There was definitely a moment of doubt when I was closing the door yesterday, as I wondered what would happen if the door got stuck while I was inside.

Before actually going to the warehouse, I had heard some really great things about the Oregon Food Bank, as Oregon is home to one of the best food pantry/delivery networks in the nation. OFB has four different branches and works with 16 different regional food banks and 945 partner agencies (one being Lift Urban Portland). There are around 270,000 people served every month through OFB, around 1 in 5 families are helped, and last year alone, there were 43.5 million pounds of food delivered to agencies around the state. And OFB not only serves the state of Oregon but Clark county in southwest Washington as well.

Food pantries are not the only aspects of OFB, as food security and education are also big aspects. Within the metro area and Washington county, there were 48 six week cooking courses taught during the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Classes on gardening were also held and more than 3,500 plant starts were distributed to Portland Metro agencies. 

And each year, OFB also puts on a two day conference for the 945 agencies they work with. This year's "Healthy Networks" conference was on June 6th and 7th, almost right after I started working with Lift Urban. And, the day that I went happened to also be located at the University of Portland! The conference was a way for agencies to get training on the different aspects of working with OFB and some other ways in which to better help serve clients.

Ultimately, while OFB has done some really impressive work, there are reasons why this work is so desperately needed. The topic of hunger and poverty within Oregon is a post coming soon!

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