F.I.S.H. prepares to distribute hundreds of food boxes again this year

Judith Labadie said people who think the recession is over should spend a day at a local food pantry.

The Newberg F.I.S.H. (Friends In Service to Humanity) volunteer coordinator said the emergency food service provided 448 food boxes by Nov. 26, down by 28 the month prior, but 100 new clients signed up to receive food boxes in the future. F.I.S.H. distributed 495 boxes for Thanksgiving and Labadie estimates more than 500 will go out the door at Christmas.

Still the agency, with the help of the community and local businesses, has been able to meet the GARY ALLEN - Hugs are common when food boxes are meted to individuals and families at F.I.S.H.

“The Newberg community’s generosity allowed us to include fresh eggs, to-bake pie crust and whipped cream, along with packaged dinner staples,” she said. “As in the past, Nap’s (Thriftway) also helps us supply turkey or another meat of the client’s choice.”

Although the holiday food boxes are especially needed, Labadie has noticed a long-term change in distribution.

“The need for food boxes goes down during the summer, but when fall hits we’ve noticed for the past three years the number of people in need goes up. There are no slow periods,” Labadie said. “There was a time when F.I.S.H. would close for a few days during the summer because it was slow. That doesn’t happen anymore.”

As an example, she related a situation that occurred last week.

“I was showing a woman who wanted to volunteer around the food pantry and a young man walked in and said, ‘I used to donate, now I need a food box,’” she said. “And that’s still happening. I don’t think our community has forgotten about people in need, but I like to put a reminder out there.”

She said there are groups who always volunteer with F.I.S.H. during the holiday season, but what they really need are volunteers year-round.

“If somebody is interested in volunteering all year, not just for the holidays, we always need people,” she said.

And volunteers don’t just work in the warehouse, Labadie said, a reason people use not to get involved. There is work in statistics, the newsletter, “a lot of things you wouldn’t think about,” she said.

However, gathering food is paramount.

“But if people want to do a food drive it’s a good idea to coordinate with our food drive coordinator because we don’t want them to collide,” Labadie said.

As for people in need, Labadie said she’s noticed they don’t like to ask for help.

She said people think because they have a job and food, they don’t need help, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, it’s beyond their reach.

“So they may not get food from us often, but need (that extra help for the holidays),” she said. “It’s the same with the Christmas food boxes.”

Those who need Christmas food boxes need to apply by Thursday. The boxes will be distributed Dec. 20 at the F.I.S.H. Christmas event. For more information, or to get involved, call 503-538-4444.

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