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Food Bank overwhelmed with need

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Barbara Shibley, director of the Estacada Area Food Bank, shows off some fresh produce available for clients.Barbara Shibley, director of the Estacada Area Food Bank, said cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) couldn’t come at a worse time.

“How do we help people move up out of poverty if we don’t have adequate support systems to help them do that?” she said.

As director of the food bank, Shibley has watched the local need for food assistance increase steadily over the last several years.

“The need keeps going up. Everywhere, not just in Oregon. And certainly the need is going up in our community,” Shibley said.

In November alone, 377 families were served by the Estacada Area Food Bank. That’s more than 1,000 people. 367 of those people were children.

“We are overwhelmed with the need,” Shibley said.

Shibley attributes some of that need to recent cuts to food stamps.

Stimulus funding passed by Congress had included an increase to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, but that funding expired Nov. 1.

“The next several months will be critical because of the changes and the winter,” Shibley said.

Shibley said the lack of local employment opportunities also contributes to need.

She explained that for most, steady employment implies commuting.

Commuting usually requires a car, which not everyone has.

“I think the recession has hit Estacada, because of its nature, particularly hard,” she said.

Community support

Shibley also is quick to praise Estacada for the community’s support of the Food Bank.

She explained that the food bank often receives food in bulk that needs to be repackaged into smaller portions.

She points to neatly wrapped food bags prepared by a local Girl Scouts troop.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Volunteer Mike Varn repackages bulk pancake flour into smaller portions.Local churches and businesses and even schools frequently make financial or food donations.

And its not just human food.

“Estacada is quite the dog town,” Shibley said, gesturing toward a large bag of dog food in the food bank.

Shibley said the food bank often receives donation of pet food.

The Estacada Area Food Bank itself is an entirely volunteer organization, from the board of directors to the people working the floor.

Shibley estimates about 35 people a month volunteer for the food bank.

Estacada Area Food Bank

The Estacada Area Food Bank serves people from Estacada, Eagle Creek and Colton who meet federal criteria to qualify as low- or no-income.

The food bank is set up “pantry-style.”

Qualifying clients may “shop” once a month at the food bank.

Rather than being given a box of food, clients may pick the items they want.

The amount they may take of any given item is determined by family size.

The food comes mostly from the Oregon Food Bank, donations and gleaners.

Shibley explained that most of the food bank’s clients receive food stamps, but food stamps can’t be used to purchase hygiene and cleaning products.

For that reason, the Estacada Area Food Bank volunteers try to make such items available.

Shibley said the Estacada Area Food Bank frequently serves senior citizens living on modest Social Security incomes.

There are also many clients with part-time jobs that lack benefits.

Shibley explained many working people still need food assistance.

Fluctuating hours from one part-time job can make it difficult to add another job to a person’s schedule Shibley added.

by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Family size determines how much of an item a client may take from the food pantry.The food bank also serves homeless people in the community.

Shibley said that clients of the Estacada Area Food Bank frequently ask about other services in the area such as emergency housing and shelters.

Food bank volunteers hand out a sheet with information on local services.

However, in Clackamas County, there aren’t many places that could be considered “homeless shelters.”

The Annie Ross House of Milwaukie provides emergency shelter and transitional housing for homeless families with children.

The Annie Ross House is the only shelter for homeless families in Clackams County, and its space is limited.

Clackamas Women’s Services has an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing abuse, but space is also limited.

Shibley said that there aren’t a lot of local institutions in place to deal with poverty and homelessness. She would like to see more low-income housing opportunities in the area.

“I think that our city council needs to address those issues. We talk about tourism a lot. We talk about the arts a lot. But I don’t see how that will address homelessness and low income housing here,” she said.

The issue gained some attention last year when Estacada resident Ethel “Punki” McNamee was ordered by the city to evict people from structures on her property that did not comply with code or zoning requirements.

McNamee had claimed she was providing sanctuary to people who would otherwise be homeless.

The situation made statewide headlines. However, according to Shibley, there was only one town hall meeting on homelessness.

“That was the last we heard anything about it,” she said.

Things to know

  • The Estacada Area Food Bank is open 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays.
  • It’s located at 272 Broadway St., Estacada.
  • If you would like to volunteer for the food bank or join the board of directors, call the food bank at 503-630-2888.


  • Local Weather

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    • 23 Nov 2014

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