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Sandy center benefits from Safeway donations

Safeway joins network to funnel leftover food to Food Bank programs

Nearly every morning, Ross Snell or another Sandy Community Action Center driver gets into a van and heads out to pick up donations.POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Sandy Community Action Center volunteer Ross Snell loads bins of fresh produce from the Sandy Safeway store into the centers van to be delivered to the local food pantry. The store donated 12,800 pounds of food in December.

In the past, his visits were just to Fred Meyer and Starbucks to pick up food that would otherwise be thrown away. Now Snell has one more stop -- Sandy Safeway after it and 106 other Safeway stores across Oregon joined a two-state food clearinghouse called Fresh Alliance.

The stores donate fresh pastries, bread, meats, produce and dairy products that the Sandy center distributes to needy families in the Oregon Trail School District. Each month the pantry serves 250-300 families, each getting a box to fill with nonperishable items, fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, milk and cheese. The center also offers free bread daily.

Safeway joined Fresh Alliance in December and immediately began donating to the Action Center, said center director Dawn Loomis. By the end of of the month Safeway's donations totalled 12,800 pounds of food.

“It brings in a lot of fresh things,” Loomis said. “We’ve been able to up the amounts of food each family can get.”

Although she expects post-holiday donations to level off, Safeway's efforts have allowed the center to cut back on the amount of food it has to buy to feed clients.

“The addition of Safeway to Fresh Alliance means more good food will go to the people who need it most,” said Susannah Morgan, Oregon Food Bank's chief executive officer. “Our mission is to end hunger. Partnerships like this, with retailers who are united in this common purpose, make our mission that much more achievable.”

Fresh Alliance was started in 2001 by Bob Morris of Oregon Food Bank and Mark Conrad of Food Lifeline in Seattle. Fred Meyer and QFC were the first two groceries to join.

Since then the program has donated more than 80 million pounds of food. Last year, Oregon Food Bank’s partners gave more than 14 million pounds of food, adding up to more than 11 million meals.POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Ross Snell organizes three loads of pastries donated by Safeway to be delivered to the Sandy Community Action Centers food pantry.

Fresh Alliance now includes Fred Meyer, Green Zebra, Haggen, 7-Eleven, Natural Grocers, QFC, Ray’s, Roth’s IGA, Target, Cash & Carry, Thriftway, Walmart and Whole Foods.

“The grocery rescue program is a win-win,” said Albertsons/Safeway environmental manager Jay Feeney. “By throwing less food away, our stores reduce operating costs and at the same time we’re giving back to our communities, helping our neighbors who don’t have enough to eat.”

Loomis said the sandy center looks at all ways to minimize food waste in the community.

“There’s such a gap between food wasted and people who are hungry,” Loomis said. “This program will help with that.”

So far, Loomis said clients have been enjoying the extra donations. One day during the holidays, Snell brought back a load of frozen turkeys. Loomis said staff and volunteers were worried they wouldn’t have enough room to store the birds — but it turned out not to be a problem.

“We were giving them away and they all went away,” Loomis said with a smile, adding that everyone was happy to get one.

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