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Prison workers donate foods, funds

by: Submitted photo - Deer Ridge employees from left, Tami Ray (payroll), Cheryl Olson (food services), Sue Brabb (office specialist and food drive coordinator), and Randy Ross (business manager) flank Steve Murray, food bank administrator, holding donation at center.


   Employees of Deer Ridge Correctional Institution in Madras raised a total of $14,438 pounds of nonperishable food and $2,352 in funds to benefit the food bank during the recent Governor's Food Drive.
   The food and funds raised will go to NeighborImpact in Central Oregon for food bank distribution.
   NeighborImpact, as part of the Oregon Food Bank statewide network, provides food to 37 local agencies in Warm Springs, Madras, Terrebonne, Sisters, Prineville, Redmond, Bend, La Pine and Sunriver.
   It also provides 75 percent of the food local agencies, such as child care providers and senior centers, provide to their clients.
   Information from the organization notes that hunger is an income problem. People are hungry because they don't make enough money to cover basic living costs.
   The high cost of housing, healthcare, childcare and fuel make it difficult for low-income individuals and families to have enough money to pay for food, the information said.
   NeighborImpact statistics noted 47 percent of recipient households had at least one working adult, which is up from 43 percent in 2004, and 37 percent in 1996.
   In an average month in 2007, it is estimated that 7,909 people were served at food pantries in Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes counties.
   Jefferson County had 845 people served by food pantries, or 3.8 percent of its population of 22,030; Crook County had 828 people served, which is 3.2 percent of its population of 25,885; and Deschutes County had 6,237 people served, which is 3.9 percent of its population of 160,810.
   Last year NeighborImpact distributed $1.4 million pounds of food in Central Oregon.
   Of that, 60 percent came from Oregon Food Bank and 40 percent was acquired locally, through food drives or grocery store recovery programs.
   NeighborImpact uses a refrigerated truck to safely pick up food at nine local stores five days a week.
   NeighborImpact spokesperson Steve Murray said local donations are much needed.
   "It's a necessity because at the same time the food supply from outside the area is slowing down, the population growth and need for food assistance has increased," he said.
   "Increasing local donations, especially our store recovery program, has come with an increase of cost to our program. When we used to receive 90 percent or more of the food from Oregon Food Bank, we did not have the expense associated with a truck, truck driver, or cold storage. All good things, but at a cost," Murray said.
   Besides the amounts its employees raised, Deer Ridge also thanked local businesses for contributions including Geno's New York Pizza, The Madras Pioneer, Round Butte Inn, Culver Hair Lines, Chappy's Auto Parts, Round Butte Seed Growers, and Linda Ross (Avon).