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Fed up with food drives

I'm fed up with 'canned food' drives for the hungry, but I am not going quietly.

Yes, I am aware that Oregon is one of the hungriest states in the nation, and that bothers me.

Yes, I know that the Oregon Food Bank received 4 percent of its food from food drives in its 2010-2011 fiscal year and a drop of 4 percent in total food at the food bank would mean a lot of people going hungry.

I've had a December food drive for the past five Decembers but I'm not doing that again. Here's why:

The Oregon Food Bank sometimes gets a bigger discount on food from its distributors than you or I could ever hope to get. That means your charitable dollar will usually go farther if you donate it to the Food Bank rather than using it to buy food to donate.

Of course, I have always known this, that's why my food drive was always a 'matching funds' food drive. I donated a dollar for every three food items that were donated, knowing that the money would go farther than the food. That doesn't bother me.

Although I always taped up the Food Bank's 'Most Wanted Food Items' poster by my food barrels, I still had people dropping junk food, candy and boxes of expired cake mix in my barrels instead of the peanut butter, tuna, pasta, pasta sauce, rice, canned fruits and vegetables and canned meals that the Food Bank requests. But it wasn't the majority of donations, so I could have lived with it.

The really frustrating thing was that most of the donations were canned food. I hope by now you have heard of the negative health effects of bisphenol A (BPA) in the liners of canned food. (If not, call my office at 503-992-1443, leave your number and we will have a chat.)

Why should people have to eat unhealthy food just because they are low income? As a Licensed Acupuncturist I can't live with delivering bad food to people just because they are poor or are having a financial emergency.

So, I've been looking into my options and talking to some wonderful folks. Let me assure you that I am still massively impressed by the great work of the Oregon Food Bank and I intend to make a donation to them in December instead of holding a food drive.

For all you gardeners out there (I know there are a lot of you). consider 'Plant a Row for the Hungry.'

When you are planting your veggies or harvesting your fruit, plant or harvest enough to drop some off at St. Vincent de Paul (at St. Anthony's church) at 1660 Elm St. Folks are there putting together food packages Monday through Friday from 7 to 9:30 a.m. so you can drop off what you harvested last night on your way to work (or wherever) in the morning.

If you are not out that early, the immensely helpful Barbara will accept food donations from 9 a.m. to noon.

I also spoke to the delightful John Burt who is the Executive Director of Farmers Ending Hunger (farmersendinghunger.com). He very patiently listened to my concerns about canned food and assured me that they would abide by any restrictions I put on my donations. Farmers Ending Hunger has the Adopt an Acre program, which allows you to 'adopt' a row ($25), one quarter acre ($50), one half acre ($100), one acre ($250) or two acres ($500).

The farmers grow and donate the food and your money allows them to process and transport it. He said canning is mostly done in January and February, so anything I donate now would probably not go to canning anyway. They also grind wheat and process it into pancake mix, make hamburger, transport fruit and freeze vegetables.

So, no more food drives for me.

More power to my fellow Forest Grove businesses that hold holiday food drives, but from now on I'm fighting hunger by donating, planting and adopting. So what do you want to do about hunger in our community?

Jane Burch-Pesses operates Phoenix Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Forest Grove.




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