Supplemental Food for People Living with HIV/AIDS

by Our House of Portland

Over the summer, a plethora of pickling vegetables was donated.  Our kitchen manager decided to to teach the residents and clients how to pickle! It was such a fun and special summer activity.

At Our House, volunteers cook three meals a day for the residents as well as many other tasks we throw their way.  They are so incredible and Our House wouldn’t be the same without our dedicated and spectacular volunteers. So, as a thank you, the residents gave them homemade pickles to recognize their dedication and commitment. One of the volunteers started crying at this gesture of gratitude. It is incredible what food can do to bring people together.

At Esther’s Pantry, our food pantry, we have started a new partnership with the Happy Valley Fred Meyer.  They picked us as one of their nonprofit partners and awarded us with a $1,000 check as well picking up food twice a week.  In each pickup, we receive between 300-1200 pounds of meat! Because of this surplus, clients can take 30 pounds of meat home for the month, instead of the regular 4 pounds!

The generosity we see from our volunteers and the community is electrifying. We are so thankful for what our community does to help our clients and residence stay healthy and live well!

Our programs have been very busy transitioning from Summer to Fall.  

Esther’s Pantry is working towards becoming a Healthy Pantry through the Oregon Food Bank’s Healthy Pantry Initiative. This program encourages healthy choices, best cooking practices, and different alternatives.  Besides education, the goal of the initiative is to increase accessibility and distribution of healthy foods.  By increasing our vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat, sugar free and lean protein options, as well as additional steps the Oregon Food Bank has identified, Esther’s Pantry will be eligible for additional funding from the Oregon Food Bank.

Our clients and residents have been busy visiting the Pumpkin Patch and carving pumpkins, visiting the animals at the zoo, and visiting a touring piece of the AIDS Memorial quilt. And, to finish off the Halloween season, we danced the night away at our Hippy Halloween Dance Party!

“Dinner at My House for Our House” kicked off in July and and these amazing events include dinners at people’s homes, venues, wineries, and more.  Events range from exquisite as a 7 course dinner to heart appetizers in a award-winning garden or making Halloween decorations at Craft Night! 100% of the proceeds go back to Our House. Our generous hosts putting on the event take care of all costs.  The dinner series raises vital funds for our programs: Esther’s Pantry, Tod’s Corner, and Neighborhood Housing and Care Program (NHCP). It is not only an opportunity to money for our programs, but it also introduces people to these programs and services that they may not be aware of all while building a stronger Our House Family.

In September, Our House was awarded as one of the top ten workplaces to work by the Oregonian Media Group small size businesses and by the Oregon Business Magazine's 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon for large size businesses.  This recognition was greatly appreciated by staff, board, and all those associated with Our House and a testament to the people at Our House.

Our Garden Project has been put to sleep until next year. The beds have been covered with leaves and will start again next year.

Last month, the beautiful ladies from MAC AIDS team stopped by to hand us a check for our supplemental food program.  MAC matches their employees time volunteering with funds for that organization and we are so grateful that the Oregon and Southwest Washington MAC AIDS team volunteers for us.  Also, we are also a no waste facility.  With over 200 clients a month, there is not that much waste, however, if things are about to expire and we are not open for the next couple days, we take them across the street to a housing project so they can use the food before it expires.


The garden has been very active (socially and producing) with the weather being so nice.  What is the best way to get people to eat their vegetables? Have them harvest the veggies themselves, and that is exactly what is happening!  The kitchen is reaping the rewards of beautiful produce that the residents are helping to harvest.  Lettuce, herbs, and peas are stalking the menu.  However, the garden is so much more than providing fresh produce for the kitchen.  It is giving the opportunity for our residents to be outside, social, and work together with the staff to create a healthy and fruitful garden. 

We are very excited to be getting our hands dirty in the garden again after winter.  It is wonderful to see how when the sun is out the mood is lifted.  Our volunteer Garden Manager and residents are back in the garden with big plans for this summer.  Clients, residents, and volunteers are busy outside with their walks, soaking up the sun, and planting the first crops. Our lettuce will be the first fresh vegetable to be prepared in our kitchen for the residents to enjoy.  How could we make a big green salad better? By making it with greens the residents have grown themselves. 


Our House’s food program Esther’s Pantry continues to received high quality donations from New Seasons Market and Whole Foods on a weekly basis.  Because of these donations, among others, and the supplemental food from the Oregon Food Bank, we are making it possible for over 200+ monthly clients to take home more nutritious food.  However, there is still room to grow. 

Often times we think of food as the primary way to feed our body’s and souls.  It helps us to maintain our health, gives us fuel to do things, and brings us together with friends, family, and others.  It helps us feel good when it’s cold out to have a grilled cheese and tomato soup, or to eat a pint of our favorite ice cream while watching a sad movie or TV show. Food IS necessary to keep us going, but so are our furbies.
Several of our clients at Esther’s Pantry and Tod’s Corner have come to rely on their pet companions for both emotional and physical connection.  If they have a dog they might be seen walking around the neighborhood conversing with others, at the park throwing a ball, or just sitting on a bench watching as others go by.  If they are a cat owner maybe they are enjoying the comfort of their feline friend layed out in their lap, watching them run after a catnip toy, or scratching their heads as they butt your hand wanting attention.
The residents at Our House also get to enjoy pets through volunteers who bring in their dogs to visit once a week.  Not to mention the many cats and dogs that our neighbors have that interact with residents on their walks or while working in the gardens. 
Our services for people living with HIV look not only at their physical health but their overall well-being too.  For many, a companion pet provides unconditional love, companionship and plenty of smiles.  Thanks to the support of our generous donors, the Our House Companion Pet Care program enables us to provide annual wellness exams, vaccines and more for our clients who have pets in their lives.
As John Grogan said in ‘Marley & Me’ - "It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them”
One of our clients recently wrote us about his dogs Buddy and Abby and how Companion Pet Care has helped him over the years:  
"My first dog Buddy literally saved my life as I was going through the throes of AIDS. I had to stay alive as he needed me to care for him- feeding and walking and bathing. Our House was there to help with his health while he was helping me with mine just by being there. He was my little hero. At 13 he let me know it was time. You helped me pay his vet bill and for his proper cremation. Thank you.
Abby was my second dog; she takes care of me. It's been hard aging with AIDS. At times I've been very depressed. Abby's always there. She pushes me out of bed with her nose as soon as I wake up. It always makes me laugh. Abby and Buddy gave me life on those days when I wouldn't have got out of bed. They've saved my life and in turn so has Out House. Your services are priceless; you help so many people and the pets we love."
Clients receive free pet food and accessories at Tod’s and Esther’s. We recognize the importance that they bring in our lives and are fortunate to receive donations from donors, like you, that may have a pet in your life or someone you know. 



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Organization Information

Our House of Portland

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
James Lindquist
Portland, OR United States

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