Food insecurity in Oregon has risen more than in any other state in the past three years.
“Oregon recorded the sharpest increase in food insecurity of any state, even as nationally the share of families struggling to put food on the table declined and the Oregon economy grew.”
That statement was released by The Oregon Center for Public Policy in late November.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, LBCC took on the growing hunger issue. More than a dozen volunteers worked hard to prepare over 200 food boxes for students and staff in need during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Committee chair Tammi Drury, who has been involved with this event for more than ten years, also serves as the Transcript/Degree Evaluator at LBCC.
“The Thanksgiving Food Drive is important to me because I want to help make a difference in people’s lives. Most of us have been in the position of needing help – this is my way of giving back and helping to make the holidays special for others,” said Drury.
LBCC has always had a tradition of helping students and staff. The Thanksgiving Food Drive is one of the ways the community gives back, by helping families struggling to put food on the table have a Thanksgiving dinner for their immediate family members.
Students and staff using the program filled out a short electronic form and then arrived on Saturday to pick up their food boxes. Families unable to drive to campus on Saturday were able to pick up their food box the following Monday at the LBCC centers in Sweet Home, Lebanon and Corvallis. A few emergency situations were thwarted by staff who stepped up to hand deliver food boxes to the students’ homes.
Boxes included the usual items a family would need to prepare a Thanksgiving meal, plus extra items that helped make the food boxes very plentiful.
The LBCC community spends over a month collecting food items and raising money to make this annual event a success. This year, a record number of food box requests were made, so the organizing committee had to step up their game to create food boxes for everyone that requested one.
Combining all the food donations, together the committee creates a shopping list of items needed to complete each food box. Using funds donated by multiple groups on campus, the committee hit local grocery stores to purchase thousands of dollars worth of groceries to complete each box. Stores are warned in advance of their arrival and food shelves are wiped bare as the committee shops for all the items on the shopping list.
“I love the food drive for many reasons – it is a lot of work and takes lots of organizations, but the rewards are high. You get to see many grateful people picking up their boxes, we get to see young volunteers learn about the gift of volunteering and many co-workers working on this project that don’t normally work together come together for this project. It takes so many volunteers to make this event possible,” said Drury.
The LBCC Printing and Mailing Department volunteer space each year to make this event possible. The shop is transformed into a food pantry for nearly a month while food is collected, and then on Saturday it serves as the staging area for the creation of all the food boxes. Families were able to drive on to campus right up to the front door of the Luckiamute Building, where they were greeted by volunteers, who helped load their cars with their food box, along with a 10-pound bag of potatoes.
“I am super thankful to see our LBCC community come together year after year to make these boxes possible,” said LBCC Financial Aid Advisor Michelle Slay. “If you have not been out to see us in action, I invite you to join us next year!”
If you are interested in volunteering next year please contact the Committee Chair, Tammi Drury, at 541-917-4818 to learn about volunteer opportunities.
Story and Photos By Leta Howell