AP NEWS

Roseburg Food Project looks for more donors

May 1, 2019

A group who gathers food for the FISH Food Pantry of Roseburg is looking for volunteers to help increase food donations for the pantry.

Pantry officials say the need for donated food continues to grow with a high number of requests for emergency food assistance in Douglas County.

So FISH is looking for more volunteers for the Roseburg Food Project to take green collection bags to residences and businesses and then collect the bags every other month. From May 4-18, volunteers wearing green shirts will be canvassing Roseburg neighborhoods to sign up new coordinators.

Neighborhood coordinators agree to organize a small group of their neighbors to become Donors. Their “neighborhood” can be a few houses, several blocks, their work place, or any group they want to coordinate.

Coordinator Karla Roady says the Roseburg Food Project has about 70 neighborhood coordinators and around 700 donors in Roseburg.

“What’s so great about this is that it gives us an ongoing amount,” Roady said. “We can now predict that we’ll get 10 to 13,000 pounds, however we give out 450,000 pounds each month.”

FISH is one of the UCAN food pantries that receives food from UCAN. Nis Jessen, the chair of the FISH board of directors, says the program filled a big void when the pantry lost a large chunk of its federal supply of food several years ago.

“We try to make it as easy as possible and get more of the community involved in it,” Jessen said.

Jessen said the FISH volunteers give out bags to residents and ask them to put in an item or two each week and on the second Saturday of every other month, the bags will be picked up by volunteers.

“We pick it up and leave you an empty bag, it’s that easy for the donors,” he said.

Many of the volunteers canvass their own neighborhood or one nearby, but they can also serve businesses. Jessen says the program has made a big difference in the amount of food they receive.

About seven years ago the federal government cut back on the food it supplied to food banks and FISH had to do something to try to keep up with the demand. He said the community responded in a big way to help.

“I do not know how we could have survived all this time without the donors,” Jessen said. “It’s grown so that it averages about 10,000 pounds every two months and that is huge, and it will spike to over 13,000 pounds over Christmas.”

Jessen says the need continues to rise.

“There’s usually 80 to 90 new people a month so the need just keeps going, but we’re just glad to serve a need there,” Jessen said. “I really appreciate all the community support and we look forward to it continuing, it really makes a difference in these people’s lives.”

Penny Reed of Roseburg has three roles with the Food Project as a district coordinator, neighborhood coordinator and a food donor, plus she volunteers at the food pantry.

“It makes me very proud of our community,” Reed said. “After you have had a Food Project pickup, you have all kinds of canned vegetables and all kinds of cereals and so many people say ‘oh, this is so wonderful to have this choice.’ I love working with the clients because they are so appreciative.”

For anyone who wants to volunteer to become a neighborhood coordinator, call 541-673-9804 or email thefishrbg@gmail.com