Elginís inaugural food drive helps Friday Backpack Program

By Trish Yerges, The Observer November 19, 2012 02:44 pm

 Stella Mayfield School principal Dianne Greif was presented Tuesday with a truck load of nonperishable foods collected by local businesses during a recent Elgin Chamber of Commerce food drive for the Friday Backpack Program.  Left are Chamber members Kem Brainerd, Jessica Anderson and Kathy Bonney (right of truck) Dianne Greif and U.S. Bank representatives Carleen Rademacher, Karen Davis and Judy Doud. TRISH YERGES photo
Stella Mayfield School principal Dianne Greif was presented Tuesday with a truck load of nonperishable foods collected by local businesses during a recent Elgin Chamber of Commerce food drive for the Friday Backpack Program. Left are Chamber members Kem Brainerd, Jessica Anderson and Kathy Bonney (right of truck) Dianne Greif and U.S. Bank representatives Carleen Rademacher, Karen Davis and Judy Doud. TRISH YERGES photo

The Elgin Chamber of Commerce sponsored their first annual food drive to benefit the Union County Friday Backpack Program, which sends food bags home with school children who might otherwise miss meals on weekends and during school vacations.   

Jessica Anderson of the Elgin Chamber of Commerce spearheaded the food drive.  In a collaborative effort, Anderson worked in partnership with Stella Mayfield Elementary School and local businesses who collected the food during the last week of October. 

“We have asked each family to donate two nonperishable food items to this very important cause,” said Anderson. “The items were dropped off at their favorite business.  The business to collect the most food received bragging rights and the honor to present the food to Stella Mayfield school principal Dianne Greif.”

Judy Doud, Karen Davis, and Carleen Rademacher representing the U.S. Bank collected the most food and presented the truck load of food to principal Greif last Tuesday.  Greif said the donation will be given to the FBP for distribution to the schools.

“Last year we participated, but weren’t organized to contribute,” said Greif.  “The Women’s Service organization made donations in the past, but this year, the Chamber got involved and this is the most significant donation we’ve been able to make to the program.”

The number of Elgin students needing supplemental meals for weekends is greater than what the resources can supply at this time.  That’s why the Chamber has initiated an annual drive to  help additional children benefit from the program. 

“Student applications are filled out at the beginning of the school year,” said Stella Mayfield principal Dianne Greif.  “Our teaching staff reviews them and decides which children need the food bags the most.  We received 85 applications this year, but we’re only receiving food bags enough for 30 students each week from the Friday Backpack Program.”

Every Thursday after school adjourns, qualifying students come to the office to pick up their food bag to put in their backpack and take home for the weekend.  The distribution is discreet and confidential.

These take-home food bags help sustain hungry children over the weekend so they return to school ready to learn, states the FBP website.

According to the FBP website “Oregon currently has the highest rate of childhood hunger in the nation, with 29 percent of the children in the state facing food insecurity.  Roughly 50 percent of the children in Union County are eligible for free and reduced breakfast and lunch, living in food insecure households.”

Food insecurity as defined by the FBP is “a household that is uncertain of having or being able to acquire enough food to meet the basic needs of all household members because of insufficient money and other resources for food.”

The battle to fight childhood hunger is ongoing, but Anderson was encouraged by their first food drive results. 

“I want to thank the community and businesses who particpated in the food drive,” said Anderson.  “We could not have done it without them.”

Additional private food donations may be dropped off at Stella Mayfield office during school hours.  For more information, contact Jessica Anderson at 541-437-3484 or the school office at 541-437-2321.