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HOPE helps the hungry in Oregon City


Have you ever had to skip a meal to pay for bills, rent, gas or some other necessity? Well, there’s HOPE for you.

HOPE is an acronym for Helping Other People Eat and is an Oregon Food Bank supported program run by five churches in the area that will give you food if you qualify and have the need. All you have to do is show up, show your ID, show a rent receipt or utility bill showing your current address and once a week they will give you a food box, the amount based on family size, that will feed you nutritionally balanced meals for three days.

They also have thrown in the consideration of toilet paper.

For those without identification or proof of residence, you can still show up and they will take your word for it. HOPE will make sure that you don’t go hungry, they don’t turn people away.

“I’ve been there before, too, and I didn’t know that this was available to me and I would like to have known,” said Kelly Stewart, who works with the Oregon City HOPE program.

“When you think you have enough packed, you have a bunch of people come in and you’re like, ‘Ahh!’ We need to start repackaging boxes again,” said Stewart of the demand.

“The need is great,” said Ron Schlosser, master gardener in charge of the garden at United Methodist Church, one of the five churches participating in HOPE.

The beautifully maintained garden uses a raised bed technique and has produced about 1,700 pounds of food for the church pantries. Schlosser and his six or so volunteers grow corn, potatoes, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, various species of peppers, sunflowers, green onions, lettuce, spinach, celery, sweet peas and basil.

The garden is in its third year and has almost doubled in size since it was originally planted. Schlosser instituted Plant a Row for the Hungry, an initiative started by The Garden Writers Association in 1995. The concept is for gardeners to grow just one more row of vegetables and donate the produce to local homeless shelters and community programs like HOPE.

“Grow an extra row to donate to a food pantry,” said Schlosser. “The idea is to grow vegetables that don’t require much refrigeration. Small operations such as ours can’t afford to refrigerate large quantities of vegetables.”

“It’s amazing,” said Rynn Mazur, a volunteer for the last year with the United Methodist Church’s HOPE program. “This church has a garden and we provide produce for many of the churches.”

The United Methodist Church is the second smallest of the five churches involved in Oregon City HOPE. Serving about 25 to 30 families a week with the typical family size being four, that’s 120 people fed on average.

Most of the food comes from the Oregon Food Bank and much of that is provided by the federal government. The partners at HOPE get some of their food for free, and some of it is bought by the churches at five cents a pound. The bread is donated by various stores across the city and a lot of the extra cans of food are donated by reaching out to schools and the public.

“Sometimes we have food drives,” said Mazur. “The schools donate quite a bit of canned food from food drives.”

“We haven’t missed a week in all this time,” said volunteer Bob Dichtel of he and his wife Grace’s 25 years of dedicated service to the church.

“We want to help people,” said Grace Dichtel as they left arm in arm.

The Dichtels are the kind of people HOPE truly appreciates.

HOPE is almost completely run by volunteers and is urging for help in feeding the people of this city. They accept donations of clothes, canned goods, plastic bags and whatever else that can be put into use to help others. If you want to help the hungry and needy, you can also donate to the Oregon Food Bank. It may be a neighbor, a friend or even a family who needs your help and every little bit goes a long way.

For more information, visit oregonfoodbank.org.

Oregon City HOPE

Weekly locations, dates and times:

Monday - Church of Nazarene, 716 Taylor St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday - First Presbyterian Church, 1321 Linn Ave., from 1 to 4 p.m.

Wednesday - Oregon City United Methodist Church, 18955 South End Road, from 1 to 3:45 p.m.

Thursday - St. John the Apostle Catholic Church, 417 Washington St., from 4 to 5 p.m.

Friday - First Baptist Church of Oregon, 819 John Adams St., from 1 to 4 p.m.