Food Share staff and volunteers conduct a mobile food box distribution last year at Chemeketa Community College.

The last eighteen months have been extremely difficult for many people in our community. Widespread unemployment and loss of wages brought by the COVID pandemic resulted in a profound increase in hunger and an incredibly high demand for food assistance in Marion and Polk counties.

During this time, the Food Share and our partners served a record number of people, many of whom were experiencing food insecurity for the first time. Our community responded to this crisis and met the unprecedented need, ensuring that children, families and seniors in our community had enough to eat.

At the height of the pandemic, we were distributing over 40,000 meals worth of food every day. None of this would have been possible without the overwhelming support of our community, which allowed the Food Share to continue serving our neighbors outside of pantry walls.

During the pandemic, we began distributing food boxes at new locations throughout Marion and Polk counties. Many of those mobile distributions took place at schools, where families were already going to pick up grab-and-go meals for homebound children. Over the course of the last year, we held 182 drive-through food box distributions, reaching nearly 32,000 local households.

Volunteers are essential to our mission, but with reduced capacity to utilize volunteer help in repackaging bulk food, we purchased more food that was already packaged in individual or family-size units. We also dedicated more funds than ever before to food purchasing to ensure we were providing the right kind of food for families experiencing hunger. Additionally, we increased our refrigerated storage capacity and bolstered our warehouse and driving staff to help get food out the door to where it was most needed.

Community support made all this possible.

The COVID pandemic brought unprecedented demand for food assistance in our community.

The Food Share would like to thank American Family Insurance Dreams, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Brenden Family Foundation, Campbell Soup Foundation, Capitol Auto Group, City of Salem, Dallas Wingdingers, Feeding America, Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette, The H Group, IDM Apartments, Lamb Foundation, Nourishing Neighbors Safeway and Albertsons Foundation, OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation, OnPoint Community Credit Union, Oregon Food Bank, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Providence Health Plan, The Reser Family Foundation, Salem First Presbyterian Church, The Sternglanz Foundation, and community members like you for your support and your commitment to ending hunger in our community.

This time has been difficult for all of us, but especially for people living on the edge of poverty, who lost jobs or whose hours were cut, and who didn’t have the option to work remotely or stay home to care for and educate their children.

Your generosity made it possible for the Food Share to meet the needs of community members who were having a hard time putting food on the table. Thanks to you, our neighbors who struggled to make it through a difficult year didn’t have to go hungry.