Madras was flooded with pickles and jalapeno peppers in October during a surprise delivery of surplus food.

The deliveries are being organized by the Feed the Hungry group from back East, which contacts wholesalers with surplus food, or goods nearing the sell-by date, collects the food and gives it to nonprofit groups for distribution.

“The big companies get a tax write-off and hungry people get the food. I’m not sure how they got our name,” said Pastor Jim Leach of Living Hope Christian Center in Madras, which is accepting the food.

The first time they got a delivery was two years ago. “We got a giant shipment of Tazo tea for the Our Community in the Park event in August,” laughed Leach.

This year, in October, LHCC was contacted again and agreed to accept a semi loaded with an odd assortment of chicken broth, all kinds of pickles, coffee creamer and gallon jars of jalapenos.

“Actually, the jalapenos went like hotcakes, and we encouraged our church members to add things to the boxes to make it balanced,” Leach said.

But there was literally tons of food – 22 pallets weighing 23,000 pounds.

So, Leach said, “We put out an APB to any organization that feeds people to come get food. We gave it out to the Jefferson County food Bank, Backpack Buddies program, Community Kitchen, Madras Gospel Mission, and churches that do holiday food boxes. Then, after it spread by word-of-mouth, we gave some to the Warm Springs Commodities program, Crook Count Food Bank, Salem Food Bank and Redmond Fire Department.”

His church is part of the Faith-Based Network, which helps with the project.

Since then, they were notified of two more shipments – organic sugar from Eugene, and miscellaneous groceries from Forest Grove – which LHCC arranged to have delivered in one semi-load on Dec. 13.

In need of storage space, Leach said Deer Ridge Correctional Facility Superintendent Rick Angelozzi offered to partner with them by donating warehouse space.

“Their staff has bent over backwards to help us. Rick Angelozzi said he’s passionate about feeding people and wanted to help,” Leach said.

He said there is no schedule, and they never know when a shipment will be coming, but he just puts out a call to helping agencies when one arrives.

The prison has the equipment to unload pallets of food from the trucks, then Leach declares a distribution day, agencies meet at the church, and they go pick up the food at the prison warehouse in pickups and vans.

“We just got added to a separate list by an agency from Corbet, Ore., and got a shipment of food from them on Dec. 17. We’re already getting food coming in more frequently than we can give it out, and now we have a whole bunch again,” Leach said.

He encouraged any families or groups needing food to call Living Hope Christian Center at 541-475-2405 to inquire about receiving some of the food.

“This has been rewarding and exciting. The Faith-Based Network has wanted to be a resource to the community, and now we have a venue to do that,” Leach said, of the ongoing food shipments.

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