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Health & Medicine

50 years later, the FISH food pantry of Roseburg still serves the needy with dignity

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David Graham
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The FISH of Roseburg
Clients at the Fish food pantry have an open grocery scene where they come in and do their own shopping.

The FISH of Roseburg food pantry started as a collective of churches taking calls through an answering service -- to help people in need. This Saturday, the non-profit celebrates 50 years in the community.

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David Graham
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The Fish of Roseburg
Nis Jessen, the FISH Board President, hauling food donations into warehouse

Out of church kitchens and custodial closets in 1971, The FISH began as a non-denominational effort to help anyone who was hungry or in crisis. And it’s remained that way.

Now, the FISH of Roseburg operates a full-size warehouse and walk-in freezer, able to handle up to 12,000 tons of food. Executive Director David Graham said they’re considered innovators of the food pantry model in Oregon.

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David Graham
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The FISH of Roseburg
The doors are open for delivery of donations to the largest food pantry in Douglas County, the FISH of Roseburg.

“To kind of have an open grocery, where our clients could actually come in and do their own shopping. They could pick the kinds of foods that they would like from our warehouse,” he said. “This gave them the dignity of being able to do that.”

Graham said if a family is behind on rent, can’t pay back taxes, is suffering illness or having to make impossible choices between food and diapers, the FISH is there with help for basic needs.

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David Graham
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The FISH of Roseburg
Some of the 13 tons of foodstuffs currently in the FISH warehouse in Roseburg.

The FISH operates with minimal paid staff. Graham said almost all the work done is volunteer—same as how it started.

The FISH of Roseburg celebrates its 50th year anniversary with an open house with food music and fellowship from 10am to 2pm— Saturday, May 12, 2022—at the FISH food pantry warehouse on 405 North East Jerry’s Drive in Roseburg.

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The FISH of Roseburg
This graphic shows how the FISH food pantry works.