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Southeast "Food Project" survives its founder - and thrives

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Winterhaven Elementary School in the Brooklyn neighborhood is one of several schools collecting non-perishable food for the Portland Food Project. Shown are three of Winterhavens participating students, from left: Ava Doherty, Luci Doherty, and Anna Notti.BEE readers may remember Richard Nudelman, who died in February of this year while running near his house in Woodstock.

Richard was known for creating and nurturing the “Portland Food Project” that he began in Woodstock in 2012. The Portland Food Project was modeled after the Neighborhood Food Project he was involved with in Medford before moving to Portland. Its purpose was to make sure local food pantries had an adequate year-round stock of food items to keep people from going hungry.

Since Nudelman passed away, his Food Project steering committee has carried on the work of organizing the collection of non-perishable food. Every two months participating neighbors continue to put the bright green bags filled with non-perishable food on their porches. The bags are then collected by Project Volunteer Neighborhood Coordinators, and a new bag is given to the donor for the next pickup.

Richard would be pleased to know that the Food Project is alive and well. He had said, “It just doesn’t seem fair that so many of us eat so well, and so many of our neighbors struggle with food insecurity.”

When he began the project in February of 2012 there were twenty donors. Eighteen months later, the project had 387 green-bag donors, and 31 neighborhood coordinators.

The Portland Food Project continues to survive and thrive. In the Portland Metro area 1,266 donors and 98 neighborhood coordinators have continued to supply 19 area pantries with canned meat, canned fruit, cooking oil, canned tuna, canned pinto beans, brown rice, fruit cocktail, plain stewed tomatoes, pasta, and more.

Items donated specifically for seniors include low-sodium soups sand crackers, “Ensure” protein drinks, and dried fruits. So far in 2015 the project has collected 64,405 pounds of food.

“Richard was passionate about getting young people involved in this program,” comments Sellwood resident Mary Notti, a Steering Committee member. “And he was working on getting schools involved, before he passed away. This year Winterhaven Elementary School in Brooklyn is one of several schools participating in food collection. This is all due to Richard’s good work and passion for helping others.”

Items needed right now are cooking oil, peanut butter, tuna, other protein sources, and toiletries – including toilet paper. To become a bi-monthly food donor, or a volunteer Neighborhood Coordinator/collector to help make policy decisions; or to help out in some other way – call 503/775-2100, or e-mail Mary at: HYPERLINK "mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information, go online to: www.portlandfoodproject.org.

Nudelman’s daughter, Lorien Khosroabadi, recently joined the Steering Committee, and says she is eternally grateful for those who are continuing with the project. “Thank you to everyone for keeping my dad’s legacy alive, one green bag at a time!”