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Food Banks Adapt To Changing Circumstances

Food for Lane County

Area food banks have quickly adapted to changing circumstances, even though canceled food drives and the need for safe handling have disrupted their supply.

Food For Lane County’s Executive Director Tom Mulhern says they’ve stopped getting donations from grocery stores and from U of O and Peace Health cafeterias, “Because collecting, sorting, processing, and distributing these kind of foods, that have been frequently handled before we even get them, has an unacceptable level of risk.”

Mulhern says several food drives have been canceled. For example, he says U of O’s spring football game "normally brings in close to 50,000 pounds of food. The mail carriers drive, that’s been postponed to some time later this fall, typically generates close to 100,000 pounds of food.”


The agency expects continued help from the Oregon Food Bank. Food For Lane County is in the Oregon Food Bank Network and regularly receives food and resources from the Oregon Food Bank.


Mulhern says they need to limit new volunteers, and they can’t safely accept food donations now either, so the best way to help is financial.



In response to increased need, Food For Lane County now has four weekly mobile food delivery sites. They began by partnering with the NAACP in Eugene and Willamalane in Springfield.


Executive Director Tom Mulhern says this week, they’ve added sites in Oakridge and Cottage Grove. “We drive in with a truck, late in the afternoon," he says, "and we distribute emergency food boxes out of the back of the truck. We’ve been serving 80-100 households per night at those particular programs. It’s just another way to get more food in the hands of this larger group of people who are now seeking food assistance.” 


Mulhern says the food bank in Florence is so far able to meet the need. Oregon now allows people with incomes of up to 300 times the poverty level to access a food pantry. That’s about $78,000 per year for a family of four. 

Karen Richards joined KLCC as a volunteer reporter in 2012, and became a freelance reporter at the station in 2015. In addition to news reporting, she’s contributed to several feature series for the station, earning multiple awards for her reporting.
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