For over 30 years, AWARE Food Bank has provided sustenance and stability for people experiencing hunger in Woodburn and surrounding communities. The pantry, one of two directly managed by Marion Polk Food Share, is the main provider of food assistance for low-income individuals in the area.
Last year, AWARE saw a dramatic increase in demand in the months following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between April and December 2020, pantry visits were up 24 percent compared to the nine months prior.
While facing the logistical challenges of keeping guests and volunteers safe, AWARE found new and creative ways to continue serving its diverse client base. That included distributing food directly into the community to reach people who might not be able to visit the pantry due to geographic isolation, work schedules or safety concerns.
AWARE holds mobile food distributions to provide the area’s farmworkers and their families with culturally appropriate foods, including rice, beans and masa. Bringing food directly to workers at farms and farmworker housing complexes means they don’t have to choose between getting food and getting a paycheck.
Creating partnerships in the community has helped AWARE to serve some of the area’s most vulnerable residents. The pantry partnered with a Woodburn Fire District volunteer team to deliver boxes of food to families in need throughout the district’s 75-square-mile service area. AWARE has also partnered with the Woodburn School District to distribute meals for children, and a collaboration with Centro de Servicios Para Campesinos is getting food to area seniors for whom transportation is an issue.
Another partnership with ARCHES regularly brings a mobile shower unit to AWARE’s downtown Woodburn pantry, where neighbors experiencing houselessness are provided food, warm clothing, blankets, and toiletries.
The community outreach and new services adopted by AWARE to provide relief for neighbors in need was made possible thanks to the generous support of The Collins Foundation, Feeding America, Northwest Farm Credit Services, Union Pacific Foundation and community members like you. Thanks to you, AWARE Food Bank provided food and vital services during a difficult year and will continue to support local children, families and seniors in need.