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St. Vinnie's will close Eugene food pantry to make space for the unhoused

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St. Vincent de Paul
Saint Vincent de Paul is closing one of its food pantries in Eugene, but they say they'll use the space to more effectively serve the unhoused. The Atkinson Food Room is adjacent to the Lindholm Center on Highway 99 North.

In Eugene, St. Vincent de Paul is closing its Atkinson Food Room at the Lindholm Center on Highway 99 North, with a new plan to re-purpose the space to serve the ever-growing homeless population.

According to St. Vincent de Paul, the food pantry they operate in north Eugene has seen a steady drop in the number of families coming in for food boxes supplied by FOOD for Lane County. Meanwhile, there’s been a dramatic rise in homelessness.

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St. Vincent de Paul
Terry McDonald is Executive Director of St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County.

Terry McDonald is longtime director of St. Vinnie’s. He said, “as we move into the winter months now, the demand for homeless services— we continue to see— escalating. Both for singles and for families.”

“So, at any given time, all of these programs have a waiting list for any shelter activities of up to 50 to 100 people,” McDonald added. “Day services are also limited because there’s only a limited space available for homeless individuals or families to come in.”

Tiffany Eckert
Hundreds of unhoused people live in tents in and around Eugene.

The Atkinson Food Room will close on December 31, when the space will be re-purposed for production and delivery of prepared meals and expanded daytime respite for the unhoused.

Over the past year, St. Vincent de Paul has served more than 300,000 meals through a variety of day and night shelter programs serving the community. These include the Eugene Service Station; the Night Shelter Annex, serving families experiencing homelessness; the Dawn to Dawn congregate overnight tent shelter for individual adults; the SVdP-managed 410 Garfield Safe Sleep site; and Egan Warming Centers, which give the unsheltered a safe indoor place to sleep and warm meals during periods of life-threatening cold.

Tiffany Eckert
Shelter beds and day services are limited because there’s only so much space available for homeless individuals or families, says director of St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County.

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.