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Play Grow Learn to expand program next month with greater focus on health, education

PMG PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER KEIZUR - About 20 volunteers with Play Grow Learn distributed 100 food boxes to families across East Multnomah County. Tuesday afternoon, May 19, a group of volunteers with a nonprofit organization passed out more than 100 food boxes to families in need across East Multnomah County.

The event was helmed by Play Grow Learn, inspired by the struggles many in the community are facing from COVID-19. The group is normally known for running camps for homeless and foster children in Rockwood, but with the pandemic shutting down operations, organizers pivoted to a new way to give back.

The distribution took place out of the Sunrise Center in Rockwood, 18901 E. Burnside St. Families from Northeast Portland to Wood Village visited to pick up boxes. Volunteers also delivered to those unable to get to the event. Each family received two to three food boxes because many were large households in need of extra support.

"We will keep providing this relief throughout the pandemic," said Anthony Bradley, executive director of Play Grow Learn. "As long as the need remains great we will be here with support."

The boxes were filled with canned food, grains, meats, greens and other healthy options that elevated them beyond the standard fare. Many groups helped make the event possible.

SnowCap Community Charities donated food and helped assemble the boxes; New Seasons provided food; The Water Kefir People donated bottled water; Farm Punk Salads and Yasuke Pharm gave beautiful produce; Bob's Red Mill gave grains; and Healthy Breads donated bread.

Next month even more businesses and organizations plan to fill the boxes, including a vitamin company and more farms for produce.

The next Play Grow Learn distribution will be on June 19, and there will be a further focus on making the offerings healthy and nutritious. There will be digital cooking classes and recipes so families will know how to prepare meals with the food. The boxes will also be customizable for those with specific health issues, like diabetes or heart problems. The program will also bring on a nutrition specialist to interview the families and create strategies to help them eat healthy.

"We want to disrupt bad eating habits and create a shift toward a healthy lifestyle," said Michelle Rose, owner of Yasuke Pharm, who played an instrumental role in coordinating the distribution. "You can't just give a family a box with food and produce, you have to give ideas on how to prepare meals."

If you are interested in learning more, volunteering, or donating to support the food box program, email Anthony Bradley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Germaine Flentroy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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