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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow High school FFA program donates more than 4,000 pounds of food to local food bank

High school FFA program donates more than 4,000 pounds of food to local food bank

Sometimes a little gift makes a big difference.

But in Union Thursday morning, the gift was in no way small. The FFA program surprised the local food bank with delivery of more than 4,000 pounds of food. 

The gift was part of FFA’s Food For All national initiative, spearheaded in Oregon by now retired agriculture teacher Kirk Hutchinson of Perrydale High School, in which farmers, students and businesses donate food for food banks.

Chelsea Mansfield, the Union High School agriculture teacher, drove to Hermiston in a pickup truck and horse trailer Wednesday evening in less than favorable conditions to pick up the donation. Then, Thursday morning, with help from about 25 FFA members, she delivered two tons of food to the food bank, located in the Union United Methodist Church.

“It was very much a pleasant surprise,” said Joe Gonzales, who has served as Union Food Bank manager for about four years. “She really went out of her way to help out especially considering the road conditions.”

The load included a cornucopia of healthy foods, among them apples, cabbage, carrots, celery, onions and pears.

The food bank serves about 60 families a month, Gonzales said. But over the Christmas holiday the demand is higher, perhaps up to 75 families. 

The food bank is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on the third Saturday of each month, so last week’s deposit in the bank was just at the right time.

Mansfield oversaw the unloading of the food.

“The kids had wanted to do a nice thing for the community, and especially with the holidays it’s a good way for them to give back,” she said.

Among the students helping out was Courtney Rynearson, a senior and president of the FFA chapter.

“The community is a huge supporter of FFA,” she said. “When we are going to shows and nationals, they help out greatly. So we wanted to find a way to give back. I hope everyone has a real good Christmas and our donation will go a long way.”

Rynearson said FFA is an organization that helps young people learn about community involvement and agriculture.

“Farmers are a big part of life today,” she said. “And even if you are not a farmer, donating food is a good way to be involved.”

In the future, Rynearson is hoping the Union FFA chapter can donate food at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The timing of the donation couldn’t have been better, Gonzales said.

“Our produce was very limited just now, with a limited shipment coming in recently from the Oregon Food Bank,” he said. “Our pantry was getting pretty bare.”

Gonzales said being part of the food bank is rewarding.

“It’s the satisfaction of helping people in need,” he said. “It’s seeing the smiles on their faces as they go out the door.”

He said the food bank has a core group of volunteers, and lots of kids help out, especially in the summer.

“We accept all volunteers and even an occasional attaboy,” Gonzales said.

Each month, he said, there are new signups of families in need.

“The need isn’t going away,” he said. “Some don’t always need help, but during the holidays, a little bit of extra food helps them out a lot.”

Contact Jeff Petersen at 541-963-3161 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Jeff on Twitter @lagrandenewsGo.

 
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