The Food for Hope grocery bag drive is nearly halfway to its goal of raising 30,000 pounds of food and $40,000 in donations by Dec. 31, ACCESS officials say.
With a new report announcing Oregon is again among the top five hungriest states in the nation, Sherm's Thunderbird Markets and the Mail Tribune have teamed up with ACCESS to help get food to the hungry, said Philip Yates, director of ACCESS nutrition programs.
Readers can fill grocery bags with nonperishable foods and drop them off at all fire stations and Umpqua Bank locations throughout Jackson County.
Other Medford drop-off locations include:
"So far we have raised about $12,000 and 14,500 pounds of food," Yates said.
Mail Tribune readers received a grocery bag in the Nov. 30 issues of the Mail Tribune and Ashland Daily Tidings, which can be filled up with nutritious food or donations to help the hungry.
Other grocery bags will work just as well, Yates said.
Last year, ACCESS exceeded its goal, collecting more than 30,734 pounds of food and raising $37,526 as a result of Food For Hope.
"My guess is that the community is going to come through," Yates said. "I just want to encourage people to help."
Locally, ACCESS Food Share provides food for more than 3,200 families each month, and that number continues to rise as the economy forces more people to seek assistance, he said.
In Jackson County, the number of people seeking food support increased by more than 8 percent during the last fiscal year, and 38 percent of those ACCESS is helping to feed are children, Yates said.
As one of ACCESS' largest food and fund drives, the success of the Food for Hope campaign is important to help address the increased need for food that takes place every January, Yates said.
"Families try to make sure that their children have a safe and wonderful holiday this time of year. Unfortunately, as many of us do, they overextend themselves, stretching their already-tight budgets, and are forced to cut back even more," said Yates. "Food For Hope will help us meet this increased need as well as help us keep the pantry shelves stocked in the early part of 2011."
For those wishing to donate food, Yates says that foods rich in protein are needed, including peanut butter, canned tuna, canned meat and beans. However, donations of any nonperishable food items, such as rice, pasta, cold and hot cereals, are always a big help.
ACCESS also accepts secure donations online. Go to www.access-inc.org and click the "Donate Now" button.
"For each dollar donated, ACCESS can provide five meals — or approximately five pounds of food — for local residents experiencing hunger," Yates said.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail email@example.com.