March 26, 2001 11:00 pm

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Keeping money in the bank and food on the table can be a day-to-day struggle for families.

Union Countys food bank family, Community Connection, is no exception. So when a major appliance recently broke down, the charitable organization began to scramble to find money to buy a new one.

Community Connections 20-year-old freezer lost its compressor more than a week ago, said Carmen Gentry, who coordinates the food bank.

Gentry noticed the dead compressor one morning when she went into the freezer for food for a food box program. The temperature was rising and food was thawing. Gentry immediately gave the frozen food to several area


We cant use the freezer now, she said. We need to purchase a new freezer. This one is more than 20 years old; the freezer floor is coming up, and ice is forming where the drain lines leak.

When a family needs a major appliance, the family must look at the checkbook and the savings account. Community Connection has some funds, but needs more, Gentry said. The cost of a new freezer that will meet the needs: $35,000.

We will receive $14,442 from the Ford Family Foundation to go to the new freezer, Gentry said. We have to come up with a $4,400 match, but Im sure well do that with no problem.

When youre feeding as many people as is Community Connection 2,269 people for the past year you need a large freezer. The floor must be reinforced to hold pallets and equipment, and a building is needed to house the freezer.

We hope to get another grant to help with costs, Gentry said. It will probably take quite awhile. We havent talked about a fund-raiser, but Im sure well have to do


Gentry said more people are turning to emergency food box programs to help supplement incomes. The requests have grown by 337 during the past year, and many who ask for food are working, she said.

Recent food and fund drives have been fairly successful, with the Eastern Oregon University food drive collecting $2,200 along with food.