By Marjorie Woodfin
Pilot staff writer
What has for years been called the Brookings Food Bank Community Helpers can no longer operate with that name, per orders from the Oregon Food Bank.
According to those in command at the Oregon Food Bank, there is no other food bank in Oregon.
But clients of the Brookings food bank need have no fear. As long as the generosity of this community continues to keep the shelves filled, no matter what the name, food boxes will continue to be filled from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday every week by the loyal volunteers at the corner of Willow and Hemlock.
Or, at that location until the hoped-for move to new headquarters planned for the property at 539 Hemlock St. can be made. That property, made available by a more than generous donor, will become the permanent home for the food bank when required improvements can be accomplished. Donations are still urgently needed to fund those improvements.
Members of the food bank board of directors have reluctantly agreed to change the name to Brookings Food Share Community Helpers. But, as Shakespeare might have said, "A food bank called by any other name can still fight hunger."
And, according to those on the front lines, that fight is becoming more difficult. For the last three years, with needs across the country drawing supplies to areas suffering loss from floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food and Oregon Food Bank supplies available to food banks have diminished.
Other food banks, (or whatever they are called these days), in other Oregon areas are reporting less food available. A publication in June reported that the vast Oregon Food Bank warehouse in Portland had empty triple-decker food storage units.
Snow Cap, an emergency food dispensing agency in the same county, reported that their emergency food boxes were a fifth smaller that previously. Judy Alley, executive director of Snow Cap was quoted, "A year ago, the emergency food bank box weighed 52 pounds. Now it's 43 pounds." The difference was reported to be the missing USDA surplus commodities, once the mainstay of the program.
USDA commodities, once 75 percent of Oregon Food Bank's food supply, are currently about 12 percent.
The annual U.S. Postal Service food drive, the Fred Meyer grant, and the Chetco Federal Credit Union fundraising golf tournament, plus donations from individuals, businesses, churches and other local organizations have made it possible to keep the food boxes available for those in need in Brookings-Harbor for more than 20 years.
Plans are being drawn for the required improvements for the move to 539 Hemlock. Anyone interested in donating to the building fund, or to ongoing costs of food and supplies, may obtain additional information by calling (541) 469-6988 or stopping at Willow and Hemlock between 9 a.m. and noon any Tuesday through Friday.
Volunteers are also needed. Those who currently donate time and energy at the food share insist that it is truly rewarding to serve others.