Schools across the country are closing their doors in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. While such efforts are absolutely necessary, they're also detrimental to food-insecure students who rely on free or reduced-price meals in order to feed themselves. These are the students most impacted by these closures.
In Lake Oswego, the district's closure means that over 500 LOSD students won't have access to school meals that they regularly depend on. This number of students may surprise some; in reality, it's another reminder that food insecurity persists in every corner of our metro region, even in cities and areas perceived as generally affluent.
First opened in 2017, the Hunger Fighters Oregon Food Pantry, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, sits adjacent to Lake Oswego High School, at 2301 Hazel Road, Lake Oswego, OR 97034. The pantry serves anyone who has a 97034 or 97035 zip code, or has a child or children attending a LOSD school, or is an employee of the school district. Staffed by volunteers, the pantry offers many items, including canned foods, fresh produce, cooking staples, hygiene items, diapers and pet food.
The pantry will continue to have expanded hours this coming weekend. On March 21, the pantry will be open from 1-4 p.m. As the situation progresses, updated pantry hours will be posted on our website, hungerfightersoregon.org.
Since the school district announced the two-week closure, Hunger Fighters Oregon has benefited from a massive outpouring of support from the community. Within 48 hours of the announcement, 220 community members donated money online, while 350 families and residents dropped off much needed food items, totaling an estimated 4,000 pounds of donated food. 40 volunteers, including 25 new volunteers, readily answered the call to help sort donations or assist our clients, contributing 200 volunteer hours. Community groups like the Lake Oswego Rotary Club and the Lake Oswego Chinese Council (LOCC) even hosted extemporized food drives and fundraisers. It's this kind of community support that allows the pantry to serve so many families and residents during this time of uncertainty.
During this past weekend, the pantry distributed 3,600 pounds of food, or the equivalent of 2,900 meals. The pantry served more than three times the number of clients compared to normal weekends, and over 70% of the families served have a student on the free or reduced price lunch program.
However, if you have not yet purchased items to donate, we are requesting monetary contributions in lieu of food items. Our pantry storage space is limited, and due to the overwhelming generosity of the community, it has filled up quickly. It would be ideal if we could continue to purchase and restock items as needed by our clients through the support of monetary contributions.
To offer monetary assistance, please visit our website at hungerfightersoregon.org. You can donate using Venmo (@hungerfighters) or through our website. You can also mail a check to:
Hunger Fighters Oregon
P.O. Box 2215
Lake Oswego, OR 97035
Thank you for your support. We're all in this together.
Michael Murray is the founder and emeritus board member at Hunger Fighters Oregon.
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