Recently. I completed a grant application that requested an outline of how WE are working collaboratively in the non-profit realm to achieve our mission. This process gave me the chance to reflect on the three simple words in the title of one of our GlobalGiving projects: Hunger.Hope.Help.
The rate of food insecurity continues to rise in Oregon. But with the support of a strong community, we continue to be hopeful. Financial support allows us to purchase food to balance the nutrition of an emergency food box. And as the cost to meet the overwhelming demand continues to rise, we are grateful for your continued donations of support.
With limited resources and the sheer quantity of non-profit organizations in Oregon, the question is valid and strategic. I readily answered the funder's question, which reinforced my own belief that by supporting our efforts, we will eliminate hunger and its root causes.
Here are some recent highlights of the collaborative work done by departments at OFB and the community:
Fresh Alliance, an OFB partnership with local grocery stores, recently celebrated 10 years of work. The Fresh Alliance program works with grocery stores to collect food that is past the "sell-by" date but still "useable." This collaboration is a win/win for retailers and OFB. The Oregon Food Bank Network gets highly nutritious product and grocers reduce their waste costs. The past 10 years efforts have provided nearly 33 million pounds of food for the Network!
A major bill that Gov. Kitzhaber recently signed, HB 4068, will allow Oregon food banks to distribute fresh-caught salmon that otherwise might be thrown away. Known as "bycatch," the law applies to fish that are caught incidentally when commercial fishing boats haul in species other than the ones they are going after. Typically, that means salmon caught while fishing for whiting, according to Mike Moran, OFB food resource manager. "In a good year, it could mean 20 to 30 tons of fish -- 160,000 servings getting out to people," Moran said.
Locally, Oregon Food Bank's Learning Garden Program has been taking advantage of a new greenhouse that was built at the headquarters in NE Portland. Plant starts grown in the greenhouse are being distributed to low-income residents at farmer's markets. These seed starts, if planted and harvested, will provide over 6,000 pounds of fresh produce to food-insecure residents.
And lastly, when a community comes together to discuss how it can build a healthier, more sustainable food system, amazing things happen. Relationships with local growers flourish. Backyard gardens and new farmers markets sprout. And neighbors learn that, by working together, they can create a stronger local food system that takes advantage of the resources within their community.
For nearly two years, through our Food-Education-Agriculture-Solutions-Together (FEAST) program, Oregon Food Bank has worked to promote more equitable and resilient food systems. The program has engaged and educated Oregonians across the state with informed, facilitated discussions about the role food and agricultural resources play in their communities. OFB held its first FEAST event in Cannon Beach in September of 2009. Since then, nine additional communities across Oregon have held events with 50 to 60 community members participating in each session
We continue to collaborate, ask tough questions and work towards our mission: To eliminate hunger and its root causes... because no one should be hungry. Thank you for your support -- we could not do what we do without you!