“We’re receiving about double our normal supplies these days – we saw about two million pounds of food donations come through last week,” says Steven Castro, who receives and logs donations at the Oregon Food Bank. “But these supplies go right out the door just as soon as they come in.”
Castro, who started working at the Oregon Food Bank five years ago as a driver, says, “Before the COVID-19 crisis, the food bank relied on hundreds of volunteers to sort through donations. But the pandemic forced us to drastically limit the number of people we can physically allow in our warehouse. With the volunteer work halted for the most part, many of us are working a lot harder day after day to try and keep up with the huge rush to get the food out to those in need.”
For employees at the Oregon Food Bank the sacrifice feels shared. “It has been super hectic and stressful due the extra demand for food supplies,” Castro added. “Everyone here is trying to take care of one another, help co-workers get through the rush – physically, emotionally, all around. I feel we’ve gotten to know each other much better throughout the crisis.”
These bonds have been tested as the urgency of food insecurity has grown over the last three months.
“The number of people who have been coming to the food pantries have increased exponentially and the cross-section of the community is much broader. Folks who never thought they’d be in need are showing up these days,” according to Castro.
The increased donations from the food industry are doubly valuable, to increase food security for the vast Oregon population in need and to prevent all of this food from otherwise going to waste.
“Each of us here at Oregon Food Bank feels like we’re doing everything we possibly can to help get food out to our community in need.” Castro continues, “We’re sacrificing a lot in our own personal lives because we really care.”
Oregon food Bank, 7900 NE 33rd Dr, Portland, OR 97211
This story is part of a series that explores how COVID-19 has shifted the landscape around how people in Oregon buy, use, and store food. As an agency committed to reducing the environmental impacts of food, we are grateful for the ongoing commitment of all who are doing the vital work to get food to our table and make sure little goes to waste during this unprecedented time. To learn more about how these partners are helping and how you can help, click here