Friday, April 22, 2011/lk
People of Hood River traditionally have been generous in supporting its food banks.
There are four locations in the county for helping people who need some help in keeping food on the table. Children, families and the elderly all benefit from local donations and the volunteer efforts of food bank workers in Hood River, Odell, Parkdale and Cascade Locks. As of last month, all four food banks are now operated by FISH. That kind of continuity will help everyone in the long run.
Fruit growers donate fresh local fruit and the stores are often stocked with other produce and vitals such as eggs, milk and bread.
FISH always receives a major influx of donations in November and December, but food insecurity is a problem all year long.
Almost 55 percent of Hood River County school children are eligible for free and reduced meals in the schools.
However, for children who need it, that important source of nutrition goes away between mid-June and early September (with the exception of limited offerings in the summer).
According to the nonprofit Children First 2010 data report, 1,097 children in Hood River County under age 18 (19.4 percent) are living in poverty.
With Oregon's unemployment rate still well above the national average at 11.1 percent, and (food stamp) enrollment at an all time high, many families in Oregon are living on the brink, teetering on the edge of poverty, according to Children First.
(The Hood River unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.)
But you can't eat statistics. For plenty of people who have no idea what numbers apply to their trying daily situations, a place such as FISH is a vital service.
There are several ways to help, including a drop box at the Hood River site for nonperishable, current-dated, unopened food items.
Curves, on the Heights, is also accepting donations through Monday.
Checks may be mailed to: FISH food bank c/o Becky Bugge, 3481 Ehrck Hill Road, Hood River, OR 97031.
If you want to go shopping for FISH, buy some cooking oil - everyone needs it - and canned fruits, vegetables, beans, protein foods and baking items. Think about what you like to serve your family, and how good that feels to have choices in the pantry.