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Henry Penner named September volunteer of the month for consistent help at local food bank

COLUMBIA COUNTY RSVP PHOTO - Henry Penner was named September's volunteer of the month by Columbia County Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Penner volunteers at the Columbia Pacific Food Bank.

Henry Penner knows his way around the kitchen. A retired cook from the Tongue Point Job Corps, Penner is no stranger to cooking for an army, but these days, he lends his talent to the Columbia Pacific Food Bank.

Penner, who was recently named volunteer of the month for September by Columbia County's Retired Senior Volunteer Program, volunteers his early mornings for the food bank, unloading and helping to stock food from the Oregon Food Bank for county residents in need.

"Henry can cook up to 500 meals, no problem," Monica Cade, RSVP director, says of Penner. "He has thousands of recipes in his head and is an amazing 'from scratch' cook."

Penner, who lives in St. Helens, cooks three meals a month for Community Meals, a program within the Columbia Pacific Food Bank that offers prepared, nutritious meals twice a week to area residents who are hungry or lonely.

He rarely turns down a volunteer cooking gig and is always thinking on behalf of the programs he volunteers with, Cade says.

"He keeps a lookout for items that Community Meals could use," Cade notes.

Penner has taken his community service one step beyond the kitchen, serving on the Community Meals board of directors.

"Henry is undaunted by any task before him," Kathy Bauska, director of Community Meals, says of Penner. "He's just a gold mine to Community Meals, and is easy to work with."

Penner was given a framed award, balloons and a festive fall bouquet of potted flowers from RSVP to recognize his volunteer service.

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