12 Volunteers distributed 6,885 sacks of groceries, a 4-day supply in each sack.The pantry supplies bagged groceries on the third and fourth Fridays of each month. 5,500 "no cook" bags were provided to our homeless clients too.
Our Food Pantry is now also an active member of the Medford Food Project. This on-going project collects food every two months during the second week of the month from area residents and delivers it to the new Central Medford High School (formerly South Medford High School) where it is divided between twenty some area food pantries.
Betty and Charlie Burgess, our Vice President and President of the Food Pantry at the time, were awarded the Chamber of Commerce Community Award for the month of January at the Medford County Commissioners Meeting on January 2, 2011. Several officers and guests attended.
The Pantry - Last two Fridays of each month, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.
“A liaison from Access recently visited our pantry and said it was the cleanest and best organized pantry she has ever visited in her travels in Oregon and California,” say Betty Burgess, VP of the Pantry Conference. Not bad considering there are over twenty-four operating pantries in Jackson County, and we may be the largest. While most of these pantries give out groceries one day a month, we’re open every week day for special needs and have grocery giveaways for 300 to 400 individuals and families on the 3rd and 4th Fridays of each month.
Besides preparing bags of groceries for each Friday giveaway, special ‘no cook’ bags are prepared for folks who live outdoors, and another fifty-plus bags are prepared for people who are shut-ins. Different groups and individuals come by each time to ensure these get delivered. “While we have a set menu, we supplement it with whatever we can buy inexpensively and with USDA goods that become available,” says Charlie. “Every bag has packaged vegetables, beans, fruits, soups, tuna, noodles, bread, butter and a meat item that gets added at that last minute,” chimes in Betty. In addition to these items, the volunteers try to adapt bags in the moment to special dietary needs. Betty says, “If I had a magic wand I would ensure every bag met the unique needs of people who have special health problems, but we do the best we can.”
“Some people think all our food is donated, but we could never offer this level of support to so many people if that were the case,” Betty stresses. The pantry needs about $50,000 a year to operate. They get a FEMA grant each year for $25,000 and that requires lots of record keeping so they can prove they are using all the funds only for food for the underprivileged. Besides the FEMA grant, Shepherd of the Valley sends a check every month. We also recently received a check for $367 from the Knights of Columbus at Shepherd in gratitude for several baskets Betty prepared for them for a special event. Betty also is very active in preparing the prize baskets for our dinner/ auctions. Each time we have an auction Betty and her volunteers spend the week before arranging and pricing candy, cookies and other specialty items donated by local merchants for sale that evening. These sales can bring in another $900 to $1,500. Besides all these funds, there is a continual flow of donated canned and packaged goods delivered to the pantry or through the Thrift Store.
Nearly 70% of the food supplied comes from Access, only the USDA food is free. Charlie and Betty are always checking prices to make certain they get the best deals. “This can make a big difference,” says Betty. “We buy from Thunderbird, Food for Less, Cash & Carry, Winco, and Costco, whoever has the best bargain.” In addition, the pantry receives donated milk, juice and pastries from Ray's twice a week; periodic large shipments of milk from Darigold; and breads and pastries from Safeway. Many of these donations go to the kitchen and some are placed on the tables for the folks at the noon meal. In the summer months particularly, large quantities of vegetables and fruits are put out for diners. These are the product of the Gleaners, USDA at Access, Harry and David, and a special fruit program operated by Naumes Fruit Co.
Betty and Charlie work pretty much every day. Charlie and five other drivers make about fifteen runs during the week picking up donations and purchased supplies, as well as goods donated by stores, restaurants and other businesses. Besides running the pantry, Charlie and his team are the informal trucking company for SVDP. A lot of volunteers drop in during the week for coffee and a friendly chat. There is always a warm smile and a friendly conversation available.