Sunday, December 19, 2010

Volunteering at the Oregon Food Bank

Yay, Jeanine!
In the spirit of holiday community, my friend, former coworker, and hiking/camping companion Jeanine Potts and I went down to the local facility of the Oregon Food Bank to donate a little time on Saturday.  Times are hard, folks.  Why deny it?  I'll do my part.

And besides, it gave Jeanine and I a chance to catch up.

Lots of bustle!
We walked in, signed an attendance sheet, and found ourselves scrubbed, gloved, and hair-netted in a twinkling.   A grocery chain had donated pallets of oats.  Our crew, which included a Girl Scout troop, a family, a church group, and some fellows who might have been donating a few hours of court-mandated community service, were put to use repacking the food in family-sized packages.  We apportioned 2 lb. of oats in appropriately-sized plastic bags, dropping in a yellow paper slip with cooking instructions, then tying the bag closed with a twisty-tie.  Boring, mundane work:  perfect for Jeanine and I to each get the news on the other's life since last we saw each other.

Workin' for the people
We worked a 2 hour shift, then joined the offered tour of the facility afterward.  Our guide, Mr. Nymicantremember, took us through the storage warehouse, with the fully stocked shelves of food, mostly in mislabeled boxes.  Jeanine pronounced the 8000 sq. ft. freezer "The biggest walk-in ever!"

All the food gets cycled through the facility in about two and a half weeks.  Most of it comes as donations from grocery chains.

Food warehouse
If you don't know about the Oregon Food Bank, they've got a very informative and easy-to-negotiate website right here.  They are a not-for-profit private enterprise that derives 98% of its funds from private sources.  The facility in Portland is the main distribution center for the entire state.  Their website explains how it all works, but simply stated, the Oregon Food Bank hands out food on an as-needed basis, no questions asked.

Looks like beer... but no!
These are tough times, no doubt about it.  But we're still living in the land of plenty, people.