Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 8:38 AM
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Oregon Food Bank volunteers

Yesterday my whole department at work volunteered at the Oregon Food Bank, helping to sort and box up some of the 670,000 lbs of food received during the recent Letter Carriers’ Food Drive. It was a fun and productive way to spend an afternoon.

Oregon Food Bank is the “hub” of a network of over 880 food banks in Oregon and Clark County, Washington, that range in size from very large to tiny operations in the basements of churches. Funded almost entirely by donation, the warehouse is a huge, state-of-the-art facility that was designed and built specifically as a food bank. And, let me tell you, it runs like clockwork.

Our group stood at long tables unpacking food from huge boxes and repacking it into smaller boxes that could be sent out to other agencies around the state. Cans and boxes that were opened or damaged or didn’t include ingredients labels were put in a big box to be picked up by a farmer who feeds it to his pigs. Very little was deemed unsuitable even for the pigs and so thrown out. Very little is wasted.

The big boxes were on these really cool tipper frames. Instead of leaning over the box trying to get to the bottom of it, you just tipped it up on the frame. You can see a couple of the big boxes tipped up over at the right. Made me wish I’d had one of those tipper things when unpacking after my last move. I might have actually finished my unpacking in something less than the three years it took.

My station was all the way in the back because I had volunteered to make boxes. Box Assembly as we pros 🙄 like to call it, is simply folding in the bottom flaps and slapping tape on them to keep the bottom of the box closed. Nothing to it. Except I was handed a defective tape dispenser (I am not making this up). I wrestled with it for a few boxes, then someone pointed out that there were a bunch more tape dispensers over on a shelf. A new dispenser made all the difference, and I was off taping boxes together like a mad woman. I think I taped about a bazillion boxes. OK… maybe it was closer to 150. But it was still a lot.

At the end of the day, the volunteer coordinator tells you how much you have helped. All together, we packed 11,667 pounds of food. That’s enough for 8,975 meals. Or, if you look at it another way, that’s enough to feed a family of 4 three meals a day for two years.

We like to think that we live in an affluent society. But last year 20% of Oregonians required hunger relief aid. They are often working families with parents forced to choose between paying rent and eating. They are children and the elderly and the disabled. They are your neighbors and mine. OFB can collect and distribute 6 lbs of food for every $1 in donations. Less than 5% of their revenue goes towards administrative costs. That’s outstanding for any charity.

If you are in the Portland area, I encourage you to spend an afternoon volunteering at Oregon Food Bank. There is always work to do there. If you are not in this area, I encourage you to find opportunities in your area to volunteer to fight hunger.

We had a blast yesterday. I can’t believe how much fun box assembly can be. I got home last night with hands too tired for knitting, so no further progress on the Spanish Lavender Basket Wave socks. But it was a really, really good tired.

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