Shop local, shop for free
When summer rolls around and students in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District who qualified for free and reduced lunch no longer have access to the school's meal program local volunteers step in to help out.
Though the school district's nutrition services program doesn't extend into the summer months because of staffing difficulties, funding and inconsistent demand, there are many outside organizations available to lend a helping hand, according to WL-WV Communications Director Andrew Kilstrom.
"Healthy nutrition is vital and we're lucky to live in a community that can provide additional resources for families," Kilstrom said.
For Wilsonville residents, the Wilsonville Community Sharing and Food Bank — a satellite branch of the Oregon Food Bank — is open Tuesdays from 1-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. There is also a market the third Monday of each month from 10-11 a.m.
"We get various amounts of fresh produce and different items from the Oregon Food Bank (and) anybody can come in and pick up," said Leigh Crosby, Wilsonville Food Bank volunteer coordinator. "There's a lot of people who are having to choose between paying the electricity bill or their medical (bill), or (they're) having to make other choices for their money and it's nice to have food available (that) they're not going to have to pay for. The rent is so high in town, the families we see are working one to two jobs and are still not being able to make it."
The food bank is a shopping-style pantry where families are paired with a volunteer and shop for items of their choosing that follow the Oregon Food Bank guidelines, which provide an item limit depending on the family's size.
While the food bank offers refrigerated and frozen foods, sandwiches, snacks, pet food, toiletries and more, the market mostly carries fresh produce like apples, oranges, pears, onions and potatoes.
For West Linn and Lake Oswego residents, the West Linn Food Pantry operates out of the basement of the Willamette United Methodist Church every Thursday from 3-6 p.m.
During the school year, the pantry has a program where students identified as in need by school counselors can take home food at the end of the week to ensure they have food on their plates at home over the weekend. That program extends into summer, though families will need to pick up the food instead of the food being delivered to the schools.
"It's a great program because, surprisingly, even though West Linn and Lake Oswego are considered affluent, there's a number of residents that are food insecure," said West Linn Food Pantry Volunteer Coordinator Debbie Meyers. "This is a way to help them have a leg up while they're looking for their next job (so) they don't have to worry about buying food for the family."
Volunteers will deliver food to those who are disabled.
Willamette Christian Church in West Linn also provides a Sunday market every week at 1 p.m. with groceries from Bridgeport Whole Foods and donated food from community members.
For more information and a list of additional community resources for summer meal programs, visit https://www.wlwv.k12.or.us/Page/303.
For youth ages 1-18, Oregon's Summer Food Service Program offers free meals and snacks. To find a site in the area, visit http://bit.ly/2Ys84wr.