Action Center hungry for funding

YOU CAN HELP: Center leaders encourage donations and support
by: Lisa K. Anderson Usually the Sandy Action Community Center food storage is filled to the brim, but not amid its current funding woes.

After waiting months longer than usual to hear about its Emergency Food and Shelter Program funding, Sandy Community Action Center recently learned it wouldn't receive the $7,000 it had for many years.

Because of federal cuts of $80 million for this fiscal year, the funds had to be delegated according to jurisdictions with at least 11.5 percent unemployment or a 14.4 percent poverty rate.

According to an email from Shawn DeCarlo, metro services manager for Oregon Food Bank, Clackamas County did not meet these qualifications, which in turn stripped the Action Center of its funds designated for food products such as tuna, macaroni and cheese, stews and chili.

'It was a shock and a hit,' Sandy Lazenby, chairwoman of the Action Center board of directors said. 'It's always hard when people in Washington, D.C., are making decisions to cut back on resources that help in smaller communities -- it's just tough.'

To make up for the lack of funding the last few months, the Action Center has been using up other private donations, but now that the $7,000 isn't coming, it needs more help.

Without the proper funding, the center has smaller allotments of food and its protein selection is limited. This, according to SCAC staff, is one of the saddest things to see go.

Oregon Food Bank and the local board that administer the funds wrote in the email they understood the profound impact this loss of funding could have on programs in the immediate future.

'Many partner agencies have already spent their annual food budgets and were waiting for these funds to help them get through the coming months and holidays,' DeCarlo wrote. 'OFB is committed to ensuring a minimum impact from this loss of funding.'

According to center staff, hunger is a struggle that never goes away. When funding is cut, it only exacerbates the stress clients and the center feel.

'We've been seeking other grants for funding, but the competition will be high between agencies who also need more money,' said Rita Ezard, director of the center.

In addition, the center is gearing up for its busiest season with Thanksgiving and Christmas, which makes it difficult to focus on fundraising.

Breezy Poulin, assistant director of the center, said she encourages community members to flex their strength in numbers, writing to Congress and helping with private food and financial donations.

'Without the community, we wouldn't have what we have,' Poulin said.

'This is a community ready to step up and make sure there's help at every step. I look forward to when the funding comes back.'

According to Ezard, SCAC feeds 700 people a month, including elderly, disabled and young community members. This amount to 270 boxes of food, which cost about $1,000 a month in total.

'We will do whatever's needed to make sure our clients still get their food,' Ezard said. 'We are responsible for them -- to help them maintain health and nutrition.'

Typically the food storage areas are filled to the brim with supplies, but now they dwindle down as the center orders week by week instead of stocking a large portion.

'The Sandy-Mount Hood area has been very supportive of people in need who live here,' Ezard said. 'I know they will continue to assist.'

Sandy Community Action Center is at 38982 Pioneer Blvd. For more information about how to assist the center, call 503-668-4746.

Donation hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.