Giving Back at the Oregon Food Bank

Second Installment in my Volunteer for a Year series- Introducing…

The Oregon Food Bank

Filling the role as service learning project coordinator this year for my daughter’s 6th grade class at the Portland Village School– we chose The Oregon Food Bank  (OFB) as our organization to volunteer for. When we arrived on site, we were introduced to the project-CARROTS!

Food Bank 10

Apparently we were lucky to get produce as our task for the morning, as fresh produce donations are rare for the food bank. Typically school groups measure out bags of dried goods (beans, rice etc.).

Food Bank 6The students worked for 1.5 hours creating 5 lb. bags of carrots that would later be placed in food boxes and distributed to families in need.

Since the beginning of the 2008 recession, food box distribution has increased 41 percent.

In an average month, 92,000 children in Oregon eat meals from emergency food boxes.

Of those receiving Emergency Food, 34% are Children.

FoodBank with kids

-Village School Students Working Hard!-

In 2012, 20% of households receiving food assistance had one or more veterans living in them. (Since 1996 this number has ranged from 15% to 21%.).

The percentage of individuals with education beyond high school or GED receiving food assistance has changed from 29% in 2000 to about 42% in 2012.

Food Bank 1

Working alongside another school group, the students packaged:

6,333 pounds of carrots in the 1.5 hour shift.

A meal is considered slightly more than a pound of food. That means the students provided approximately 4,872 meals during their volunteer shift

(94 meals per volunteer)!

Way To Go 6th Graders! 

After the students completed their shift, we were given a quick tour of the facility- it’s an impressive place! The OFB addresses hunger in a multi-faceted manner:

  • The innovative Fresh Alliance program collects and distributes nutritious, perishable foods for people who are hungry.
  • Education Programs teach low-income participants to grow food from seed and to stretch food dollars while cooking healthy meals.
  • Work through FEAST (Food, Education, Agriculture Solutions Together) workshops and other partnerships help communities build stronger and more equitable local food systems.
  • The Advocacy Team works to find long-term, public-policy solutions that benefit people with low incomes.
  • Huge outdoor garden on site.
  • Commercial kitchen on site for nutrition and cooking classes.

Food Bank 2

“Last year, Oregon Food Bank distributed 43.5-million pounds of food to hunger-relief agencies.”

Food Bank 4In 2012 at OFB’s two Portland area locations, volunteer hours were equal to 74 full time employees, valued at $2.4 million.  WOW!!!

Photo Left: I attempted to get a photo with my daughter, but she exclaimed, “No way mom, you’re going to put that on your blog!”  I guess the volunteer outfits weren’t flattering enough. 🙂

So, one of her friends posed for a photo with me. Thanks Jaslie!

All the above statistics were found on the Oregon Food Bank website. Click here for a PDF version of the 2012 stats, and to find additional information.

The OFB has plenty of opportunities to volunteer for groups and individuals. There are shift dates and times planned in advance for school groups – you simply sign up for the shift you want to volunteer for.

Published by heathercyrus

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest nearly my whole life and was raised to appreciate and enjoy the natural world. My passion for the environment and studying environmental justice, eco-tourism, green design, renewable energy, green cities, biodiversity, and biology led me to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies. My knack for event planning, community organizing and media communications led me to pursue a degree in Journalism & Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. My two degrees dovetail nicely, providing me the tools to play my part in protecting natural areas in a constantly changing world of communications. I believe strongly in environmental education, and communicating the beauty and necessity of local stewardship. Being a mother is a daily reminder of the importance to lead by example for our younger generations. I strive to do all I can in my daily activities to make healthy choices for my community and family. I am Currently Seeking Employment! If you have a lead on a position that sounds like a good fit, please keep me in mind and let me know! I am currently in Portland Oregon, but willing to relocate for the right position. I’m interested in the business sector as well as non-profit or freelance work. I am available to guest blog regularly, part-time or project based for your company or organization. In the end, I have a lot of passion, leadership and drive to make a difference, and I can’t wait to start! See my PORTFOLIO section on for a resume and samples of work.

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