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Tualatin School House Pantry gets boost from local hospital

Stafford-area pantry serves four local communities

Employees at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center recently donated more than 1,000 pounds of food to a local food pantry, a hospital spokesman said, providing them with additional stock in time for summer.

Piseth Pich said Meridian Park's donation — about 1,173 pounds and $800 to the Tualatin School House Pantry — was part of a drive throughout the Legacy Health system of hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

In total, Legacy Health donated some 11,176 pounds of food and $11,214 to food banks and pantries throughout the greater Portland area, according to the organization. The West Linn Food Pantry was also among the 16 pantries that received donations.

The Tualatin School House Pantry, which leases space at Rolling Hills Community Church in Stafford, serves residents of Durham, Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn. It is the largest food pantry in its area, said pantry coordinator Joanne Clayton.

Once per month, people in need can come to the pantry — it is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — and pick out items. The pantry, set up like a miniature supermarket with aisles of canned and dry goods and refrigerators filled with meat and dairy products, even has items like diapers, laundry detergent, toilet paper and pet food available.

“We are partnered with the Oregon Food Bank to be kind of like a healthy pantry, so we do try to encourage healthy eating, but obviously, it's contingent on our donations,” Clayton said, adding, “There was an idea that we would put healthiest at the top (shelves), and then I was like, 'No, we can't do that.' We're not judging anybody on what they choose.”

All that visitors need to do is show some form of identification — a coupon with their name on it or a piece of mail will do — and take a number when they arrive, Clayton said. The pantry can also deliver upon request if patrons do not have access to transportation.

Donations like the one that Meridian Park employees made this spring help because it allows the pantry to offer a greater selection, Clayton explained.

“The rest of the stuff we get from the Oregon Food Bank, but what it does is it gives us a much better variety of food that comes in, and our food is really well stocked all the time,” she said.

This is the fifth year that Meridian Park has held a food drive to benefit the Tualatin School House Pantry, according to Pich.

“We used to do a whole bunch of little drives every year and realized that the impact of those wasn't as significant as if we focused our energy on two drives,” he said. “So we do a sock drive every year, and we do a food drive every year — wholly within Legacy. We don't ask our patients or the public to necessarily contribute, but they can if they want to. And you know, our employees are really empowered to know that all the food — and the money, for that matter — that they're contributing toward the food drive serves the community they live in.”

Both Clayton and Pich live in Lake Oswego. While the community is often regarded as affluent and not viewed as having any issues with poverty or hunger, Pich noted, food insecurity is a universal problem.

“There's families all over that need it,” Pich said of the services that groups like the Tualatin School House Pantry provide.

Clayton said the pantry is also able to leverage the dollars it receives by purchasing food from the Oregon Food Bank that it might not otherwise be able to stock. Cash donations are a “huge” help for the pantry, she said.

The Tualatin School House Pantry is located at 3550 S.W. Borland Road, Tualatin. Hours are 3 to 8 p.m. Mondays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.