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More gthan 600 volunteer hours were contributed and 1,061 households worth of food were given away June 11 and 12 at the Crook County Fairgrounds

 - Volunteers were kept busy during the two-day food distribution event at Carey Foster Hall.

On June 11 and June 12, the biggest food give-away project ever to take place in Prineville was a huge success.

"It went really well. We had nearly 600 hours of volunteer hours in a week-Monday through Friday of last week," commented Vicki Ryan, emergency preparedness coordinator for the Crook County Health Department.

Ryan keeps track of all volunteer hours, and volunteers are asked to sign in and sign out. She added that it took approximately one-and-a-half months to collect food for the giveaway project, because the grocer they work with was challenged with getting some of the items they were requesting, as well as some of the quantities they were requesting.

On Monday, June 8, all the volunteers came into the Carey Foster Hall at the Crook County Fairgrounds and set up tables to break down pallets to sort food. It was sorted into three categories — breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

"We started bagging it," said Ryan. "We bagged about 1,200 bags of each — breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whatever was left over, we put together a bag number four."

The volunteers each got to go shopping for eight items for that bag. Altogether, each household received four bags, which equated about one week's worth of food for a family of four. For bigger families, they gave more than one set of bags.

"We distributed about 1,061 household's worth of food," she noted.

Ryan added that Neighbor Impact also partnered with them. On Thursday morning, June 11, Neighbor Impact delivered 180 boxes full of dairy products and a like number of boxes full of produce. The first 360 cars that came through on Thursday morning got their choice of a dairy or produce box, in addition to the week's worth of groceries.

In addition, Ryan said they also received two cows from the Shiloh 1017 Project, which made it possible to add 600 pounds of ground beef. The first 600 cars also received a pound of ground beef as well.

Ryan said that they had funds left over from Crook County Holiday Partnership, equaling $6,000, that was put towards the food giveaway. Crook County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue matched those funds, and Fortis Construction donated approximately $18,000. Facebook also donated $20,000. Altogether, the funds donated to the food giveaway equaled $50,000.

"It was so great," said Ryan. "It was really sad to see the reality of the need in our community, because on Thursday morning before we opened up it started at about 7:30 a.m.—people came and got in line and we didn't open until 9:00 a.m."

The station for the food giveaway was at the Carey Foster Hall, with the cars driving through the main entrance to the fairgrounds and the recipients never had to get out of their cars.

"We did comply with the physical distancing and face coverings anytime we were working with the public. When we were inside the warehouse, we maintained a six-foot physical distancing."

She added that as part of the health department they must comply with all regulations. On Thursday morning, they had four cars wide, all the way out to main entrance of the fairgrounds and almost backed up halfway to town on Main Street.

"It was a steady trickle all day long, and we stayed until 7 p.m. and handed out households of food all the way until 7 Thursday night," pointed out Ryan.

The first four hours were set aside for seniors and veterans. Most people who were lined up were seniors and veterans and having them come through first prevented them from having to wait for hours in their cars. Caregivers could also come and pick up food for clients.

Friday morning was similar, with people beginning to line up at 8 a.m. Ryan indicated that it was steady until 3 p.m. on Friday. Any that any leftover food was mostly donated to the Crook County School Backpack Project to help ensure they have enough food to help them get through the summer. The food is distributed at Crooked River Elementary, and the staff distributes it to the students.

The other remaining food was donated to Neighbor Impact to reciprocate all the great subs that they brought to help with the project, which helps to continue to distribute the food to the community.

"We were very pleased with the results and very saddened with the need all at the same time. That was kind of mixed emotions," concluded Ryan.

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