Cycle of giving, getting works for food pantry

Only residents of Lake Oswego and West Linn are eligible to visit the pantry
by: vern uyetake More than 200 pounds of food was collected for the West Linn Food Pantry during West Linn resident Paula Harkin’s 1,000th run on Sept. 27. Pictured are Shauna Shroyer (left) and Constance Weaver gathering the collections.

It may seem cliché, but sometimes it really does take a village to raise a child, especially a hungry child. Without donations from every corner of the community, the West Linn Food Pantry could not function.

From churches to schools, from businesses to citizens, donations of food and funding come from all over Lake Oswego and West Linn to support the local area's hungry citizens.

West Linn's Food Pantry has been a successful operation serving both cities since January 2007.

Though it might not be easy to see in West Linn or Lake Oswego, families are going hungry - even here.

The 2009 Feeding America report found that Oregon had the highest rate of childhood hunger in the nation. It stated that 29 percent of Oregon children face food insecurity, meaning they are not sure where their next meal is going to come from.

The West Linn Food Pantry hands out 90 boxes of staples per month and serves 50 to 60 families a week in just fresh bread and produce.

'It's been quite steady,' said Jennifer Loney, food pantry co-director. 'West Linn, as affluent as we are, not everybody in West Linn has money or a lot of money.'

Most people who use the pantry are either large families or elderly couples on fixed incomes. And there are the families whose jobs have been cut back or eliminated.

'We have a very good group of people coming in,' said Loney. 'They're just very grateful that we are here.'

Visitors to the food pantry must live in either West Linn or Lake Oswego and must show identification.

But what makes the food pantry so special is all the hard work and generous donations people and businesses contribute, without getting anything in return.

Some of the business donors from Lake Oswego include Upper Crust, St. Honoré Boulangerie and Safeway. West Linn donors include Albertson's, Starbucks and Market of Choice. They also receive donations from Portland Bagel Company. Even cat and dog food is donated. That doesn't even touch on all the churches, schools, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, libraries and businesses that hold food drives throughout the year.

'The community as a whole does a great job supporting us,' said Loney.

Perhaps the most interesting cycle of giving and getting is the relationship between Bolton Primary School and the food pantry. Bolton students grow and maintain a garden as part of their science curriculum.

Produce from the school's garden is donated to the food pantry. Not only are the children learning science, they are also learning the valuable lesson of giving.

In return, the food pantry clips all the Box Tops for Education labels off all of its cans and boxes and gives them to the school. Just this year, the food pantry gave the school more than $1,100 in Box Tops, which the school then reinvests into the garden.

'It's been a great partnership with Bolton school,' said Loney. 'It's been phenomenal.'

Everything the food pantry does is run off of 100 percent volunteers and donations. The pantry has around 50 volunteers donating their time.

Items the pantry current needs are toiletries, canned fruit, canned chili and meat, beans, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, 100 percent juice, jelly and peanut butter.

'We like everything. We're not proud,' joked Loney. 'If it comes in, it goes out. We waste nothing.'

The West Linn Food Pantry is located at 1683 Willamette Falls Drive. It is open Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

Pantry talks turkey

You know when all those turkeys go on sale right before Thanksgiving? Some stores even run promotions where you can earn free turkeys. Well, the food pantry would like you to snatch up as many frozen turkeys as you can and donate them.

The West Linn Food Pantry uses those turkeys to give out at Christmas time. With loads of available freezer space, the pantry would love to fill them up.

'It sounds strange, but it's huge,' said Jennifer Loney, pantry co-director.

Last year, the pantry served between 170 and 190 families during the holidays.

For more information or times to drop off donations, call 503-880-8140 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..