LOCAL BUSINESSES LED BY WESTERN STATES EQUIPMENT and Albertsons gathered up more than 5,000 pounds of food for local food banks during Western States “Dump Hunger” food drive this winter. Above, Carmen Gentry, Community Connection’s food bank manager (center), shows off a ceremonial “check” for the donations. With Gentry are (left to right) Bryan Ackley of Baxter Auto Parts, Jason Wilson of Western States, Carrie Brookshire of Albertsons and Arnie Peasley of Les Schwab. Eastern Oregon Rental and Sales and Blue Mountain Auto Parts also participated in the campaign. BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH / The Observer
Local businesses led by Western States Equipment collected 5,200 pounds of food for local food banks during the Western States 2011 “Dump Hunger” campaign.Since the program’s launch three years ago, Western States and its partners — principally Albertsons — have gathered 1.2 million pounds of food for pantries in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Wyoming.
The Western States dealer in La Grande takes an active part in the drive. The food collected locally goes to food banks served by Community Connection of Northeast Oregon.
Donations to food banks historically are at their lowest levels in January and February. Western States created the “Dump Hunger” drive to gather food and also raise awareness of hunger, especially hunger in the late winter months.
Two years ago, the company formed an alliance with Albertsons stores across the Intermountain West.
Mike Clawson, president of Albertsons Intermountain West, said his company is pleased to be a partner in the effort.
“Raising more than a million pounds in two campaigns is a tremendous accomplishment for everybody involved,” he said. “Clearly Western States and those who contributed to the success of Dump Hunger share our passion for fighting hunger and giving back to our communities.”
Community Connection Food Bank Manager Carmen Gentry said the Dump Hunger food drive gains momentum every year. In fact, in 2011, Western States and Albertsons more than doubled the region-wide campaign goal of 225,000 pounds.
“Both Western States and Albertsons have been very supportive in organizing this food drive for us. We appreciate the local partnerships we have with these important companies and employees,” Gentry said.
Locally, Western States, Albertsons, Blue Mountain Auto Parts, Baxter Auto Parts, Eastern Oregon Rental and Sales and Les Schwab all maintained collection points during the five-week food drive.
Western States trucks transported the donated food to Community Connection.