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Because of COVID-19 concerns, food items won't be accepted, but monetary donations will be gladly accepted.

COURTESY PHOTO: TUALATIN LIONS CLUB - Tualatin Lions Mark Willon and Jackie Dannemiller collect canned food donations at the 2020 Super Saturday Food Drive sponsored by the Tualatin Lions Club. Because of COVID-19 concerns, no actually food can be collected this year. However, cash or check donations will be gladly accepted.Although the Tualatin Lions Club is holding its annual food drive this month, the club won't be accepting food items.

Due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns, the club will instead ask donors to give cash or write a check so the Lions can purchase non-perishable food for the Oregon Food Bank. It will gladly accept monetary contributions from the community on Saturday, Feb. 27. Unfortunately, a credit card reader won't be available.

Those wishing to donate in a safe manner can drive through the parking lot at the Tualatin Police Department, 8650 S.W. Tualatin Road, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and drop their contributions in a container.

Brad King, secretary for the Tualatin Lions Club, notes the annual food drive has been an annual mainstay for the five years. Traditionally, the Lions collect food at the Walmart stores in Sherwood and Tigard. The Tualatin club has even challenged other Lions clubs to collect food for the Oregon Food Bank as well.

Last year, the Tualatin Lions collected just shy of one ton of non-perishable food, with an additional $280 in cash donations.

"This is an important time to do food bank support in 'normal' times, because food pantry shelves tend to be a little bare following the holidays and need refilling," said King, a retired member of the Tualatin Police Department. "This year's fund drive is even more important due to the consistent pressure on the Oregon Food Bank from the COVID-19 pandemic."

The Oregon Food Bank supports food pantries throughout the region, including in Tualatin, Sherwood and Tigard. The food bank's adage is that while hunger starves the human spirit, communities thrive when people are nourished.

While in the past, the Oregon Food Bank has placed the rate of food insecurity — generally defined as a lack of consistent access to food — in the state at 14.5%, a study by the Oregon State University's School of Public Policy in December estimated those rates at 25% now during the pandemic, according to a Lions Club news release.

For Black, Indigenous and other people of color, also known as BIPOC communities, those numbers are as high as 30%.

"Food insecurity among Oregonians is almost twice what it was pre-pandemic, and the causes for that food insecurity — unemployment, housing costs, etc., are not going to change soon," King said. "Our motto as Lions is 'we serve,' and we take as our mission: 'Where there is a need, there is a Lion.'"

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