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Since the coronavirus pandemic hit Oregon, 75% more people are using the local food pantry

PMG PHOTO: HOLLY BARTHOLOMEW - Food Pantry volunteer Carol Feucht consults a list of food requested by a family as she prepares their box. In the nearly two months since the coronavirus pandemic began, volunteers at the West Linn Food Pantry have seen the number of people utilizing the pantry's service raise 75%.

"Every week we're getting more clients," said pantry volunteer Debbie Meyers. "We've been getting between two and five new families every week."

However the pantry has also seen an increase in donations, Meyers said.

The food pantry, which is located at the Willamette United Methodist Church at 1683 Willamette Falls Drive, was established in 2007 to provide food and other necessary groceries to families in the West Linn and Lake Oswego area.

Meyers said people seem very eager to help others during the difficult times brought on by COVID-19.

The pantry has also seen a surge in people inquiring about volunteering, Meyers said, especially people who have recently lost their jobs and have more time on their hands.

Unfortunately, the pantry hasn't been able to utilize the extra willing volunteers because of its efforts to minimize contact between volunteers, food pantry clients and the food.

Since the pandemic began and Oregon went into lockdown, the volunteers have had to alter the way they operate. While previously, clients could come into the pantry and select the items they may need, the pantry has shifted to a curbside pickup method.

PMG PHOTO: HOLLY BARTHOLOMEW - Volunteers prepare bags of fresh produce at the West Linn Food Pantry.From 3-6 p.m. on Thursdays, clients can drive up to the pantry, and a volunteer with a check list will come ask which items the family needs.Volunteers will then place a personalized box with non-perishables, toiletries, fresh bread, produce, meat and dairy, in the client's car.

"We were worried that if people came all at once, that we couldn't do personalized orders for them (at the outset of the pandemic)," Meyers said.

But the pantry has seen clients come at fairly spread out times, meaning volunteers have time to assemble boxes based on the family's specific needs.

From 1-6 p.m. on Thursdays, community members can also drop off food donations at the pantry just by driving up.


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