Since 2008 the Oregon Food Bank has seen the demand for emergency food boxes increase.

SUSAN MATHENY/MADRAS PIONEER - Les Schwab Manager Ron Hollingshead, back left, stands with members of the Madras FFA, who arrived to take food donations to a Madras food pantry.In October, Oregon FFA partnered with Les Schwab Tire Centers, Wico Coop, Capital Press and the East Oregonian in a Drive Away Hunger food drive.

Since 2008 the Oregon Food Bank has seen the demand for emergency food boxes increase by 40 percent.

The initial goal of raising 250,000 pounds of food in 2015 seemed daunting, but the more than six thousand FFA members from over 100 chapters and Les Schwab Tire Centers across Oregon made great strides to help provide the Oregon Food Bank and other local food pantries with much needed food.

This year the Drive Away Hunger Event collected over 510,150 pounds of food; double that of the original goal, and enough to provide more than 380,000 meals.

Over the past three years, the event has raised over 1.5 million pounds of food for those suffering from food insecurity, enough food to help nearly 3,500 Oregon families for more than a month.

The Madras High School FFA collected food at the school and combined it with the food collected at the Madras Les Schwab Store.

"We went to the Madras United Methodist Church Food Pantry after (picking up food at) Les Schwab, and they were very happy to accept our donation. They weighed all the food and it totaled 409 pounds. Our goal is to at least double that next year," said MHS FFA advisor Sara Vollmer.

The efforts to collect the food were as diverse as the communities themselves. In Prineville, where Les Schwab Tires first began, the FFA chapter raised a crop of potatoes and was able to donate over 9,000 pounds to the local food banks.

"The FFA thanks all the farmers, community members and everyone who brought food, donated time and helped give to this effort." remarked Kevin White, Executive Director of the Oregon FFA Foundation.  

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