6/8/2011 12:49:00 PM Food pantry pilot program gaining momentum
Catholic Charities photo
Carrie Scheuermann works to coordinate a pantry in Gresham organized in part by Catholic Charities.
GRESHAM — High unemployment and a tough economy forced record numbers of Oregonians to turn to emergency food last year.
In response, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Portland, the Oregon Food Bank and Multnomah County have teamed up at East Gresham Elementary as one of six school-based food pantries throughout the county.
The pilot program began in March and is already serving more than two dozen families each week, with the help of members of neighboring Grace Community Church, which stores and delivers food to the distribution site.
“As caretakers and educators of low-income children, we often struggle with the idea that students may be leaving school at the end of the day without dinner to go home to,” says Everett Barr, a site manager at East Gresham Grade School. “The program has allowed us to identify needy families and immediately supply food. The rapid response of families showing each week validates that this community clearly needs the help.”
The food pantry is open to families enrolled in an aid program 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays. Families receive fresh vegetables and fruit, milk, eggs, bread and other miscellaneous groceries totaling 30 to 40 pounds, or about six bags of food.
“My husband calls me a professional volunteer," says Carrie Scheuermann, who serves at the food bank. "I’m always advocating for the underdog, the needy, the how-income, and the people on the edge. That’s where my heart is. It breaks my heart to know there are kids in this area that go home hungry, so if we – churches, community, charities – can fill that need, it makes me happy.”