Friendly people draw others to Clay Street Table
How do you create community for people struggling to make ends meet or those who are homeless? At Clay Street Table volunteers from nearby churches, schools, civic groups, and the community, help run a meal program and pantry at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in southwest Portland. They serve about 2,000 meals each month.
What sets this program apart is the number of food recipients who are also volunteers. Local residents in low-income housing, as well as the homeless, join forces with volunteers under the direction of Rev. Dr. Paul Davis. Rev. Davis welcomes everyone who enters the door as a friend. His infectious energy gets people working together, blurring the lines between haves and have-nots.
To build skills and foster community, pantry recipients can take part in the Cooks Supper program. Class participants start each session by cooking dinner for as many as 150 homeless youth who are part of The Underground, a community for unhoused youth aged 14-25 years. Executive Director Ken Loyd organizes local college students to serve the meals. This combination of education, service and food is the basis for a strong community among people who might never have made a connection.
Do you remember who taught you how to cook? Was it your mom or maybe your grandfather? Even if you don’t consider yourself a good cook, you probably learned some skills to make a healthy meal. Meet Sidney. Through the efforts of the Multnomah County Health Department, he and a group ofdiabetic and pre-diabetic community members recently completed Share our Strength’s Cooking Matters™ classes taught by Oregon Food Bank’s Nutrition Education Program. These classes are offered to low-income individuals through Oregon Food Bank’s partnerships with social service organizations. In Sidney’s case, his condition isn’t the only challenge he faces; he’s also homeless and accesses emergency services to survive. Despite these obstacles, Sidney helps prepare food for hundreds of people who visit the dining hall at St. Francis of Assisi. But what really inspired Sidney were the volunteers who taught the Cooking Matters course. After the first class, he asked the St.Francis cooks if he could prepare the healthy turkey chili recipe for his fellow diners. They gave him the opportunity to fix this meal for over 150 people. Now there’s a special folder at St. Francis with all of Sidney’s recipes from his cooking class. Cooking Matters gave Sidney a feeling of hope and the experience of community. It’s donors like you that give people like Sidney the opportunity to take a course on healthy cooking that in turn will impact his health and the health of hundreds more.
Every day in Oregon, hundreds of thousands of our neighbors engage in a lonely and all but invisible struggle to afford enough food for themselves and their families. They face choices no one should have to, and they do so with so much strength, resilience and quiet dignity that most people never notice how prevalent hunger is in their neighborhoods.
In Tillamook, we met a man, Mike, who has been told his whole life that he shouldn’t even be alive.
“I’m one of those ghost people. It’s hard when you have disabilities. People always tell me I am a retard, I am no good, I shouldn’t even be alive. And I hear that constantly—my whole life. I’m the type that doesn’t like to get help; I have to do it on my own. The last few years have been really, really tough. I had to break down, put my pride on hold and get help from the food pantry. I’m the type who sits in the back of the room not saying anything. I’m one of those ghost people. I’m grateful for the food banks. If other people need help with food, I help them when I can. I help people who are a little bit worse off than me."
America’s narrative about poverty and hunger is dominated more and more every day by the false belief that people who are struggling are making poor choices or not working hard enough. The purpose of Oregon Food Bank’s annual Voices project is to shine a light on the real causes of hunger by bringing attention to real stories of people we serve. We traveled across the state to speak with food-insecure Oregonians about issues that matter to them.
We sincerely appreciate the honesty and courage of those who shared their experiences with us. These stories move and educate us. No one should be hungry, and so long as hunger still exists, no one should have to face it alone.
On Monday, January 20th, a record-breaking number of volunteers - almost 700 - honored Martin Luther King Jr. with a Day of Service by repacking food and sorting food-drive donations at two Oregon Food Bank facilities. Volunteers processed over 100,000 pounds of food – equivalent to more than 83,000 meals, and as much as the two facilities process in a regular work week. None of this would be possible without your donations.
In answer to Dr. King’s famous call to action – "Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’" – Congress passed this sanctioned Day of Service challenging Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action.
"We are grateful for all the volunteers giving their time in the spirit of service embodied by Dr. King. Together we can make significant strides toward eliminating hunger in Oregon," said Sarah Schirmer, Oregon Food Bank Corporate and Foundation Relations Developer.
Each dollar you donate provides OFB the power to source and distribute 3 full meals to people in Oregon and SW Washington who are struggling with the devastating effects of hunger. Thank you for making a huge impact in the fight against hunger.
"Because of your compassion and committment, our community is stronger. Your generosity of giving Oregon Food bank the power to meet the overwhelming demand for food assistance in bold new ways. We thank you for joining our mission to end hunger." Susannah Morgan, CEO- Oregon Food Bank.
For the third year in a row, the Oregon Food Bank Network distributed more than 1 million emergency food boxes in Oregon and Southwest Washington. This staggering figure underscores the fact that hundreds of thousands o ffamilies and individuals throughout our region continue to struggle with hunger. but with the support of our community, donors and partners, we were able to provide food, education nd hope to our neighbors in need. To find out how we did this, please see our annual report.
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Corporate Relations Developer