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ACCESS donations support food acquisition, storage and distribution

ACCESS has indicated it can provide five meals for a $1 donation. We were wondering how they can do that (what other resources are combined), and what the meal typically consists of. It's nice to be in a city with this type of service.

— Jerry and Judy, Medford

We imagine 20 cents doesn't generally buy much of a meal, so we touched base with ACCESS Nutrition Programs Director Philip Yates for insight on how locals' monetary donations to ACCESS are spent.

The first thing Yates did was clarify what may have been a misunderstanding of ACCESS promotional material. Yates explained that the organization provides five pounds of food with each dollar, but doesn't purchase food with those donations.

"We don't purchase the food," Yates explained.

Instead, ACCESS partners with the Oregon Food Bank cooperative for the bulk of its food donations, which it pays to have trucked down from Portland. It also grows organic vegetables in the summer at five community gardens, sources donations from local grocers, farms and other food businesses such as Harry and David, Amy's Kitchen and Maranatha nut butters. 

That food may come without charge, but keeping it stored safely and delivered to hungry families and the approximately 20 organizations that prepare food sourced from ACCESS has a cost. 

"Our costs are around $600,000, and combine that with over 3 million pounds of food," Yates said. "So the relationship is five pounds to one."

Yates emphasized the importance of community food drives, especially for its emergency food box program. Although food drives aren't the bulk of the organization's donations, he explained that drives help ACCESS provide consistent items in its 65-pound boxes that can feed a family of three for about five days.

"Food drives are an important component for us, and help balance the foods we have coming in," he said.

Yates encourages individuals curious about ACCESS' operations to stop by its facility to see the organization's coordination efforts.

"Sometimes people don't understand what's involved in the whole process," he said. "We're pretty food rich in our area; but it's a case of bringing it all together."

 Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.