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Olsruds step up again for ACCESS

Local report

Efforts to raise food for local families in need got a boost Friday, when Sherm's Thunderbird and Food 4 Less grocery stores delivered more than 11 tons of food to ACCESS in Medford. The food will help stock shelves in food pantries across Jackson County.

The grocery company's founder, Sherm Olsrud, along with his son, Steve Olsrud, oversaw the distribution. The Olsrud family has donated a trailer full of food to ACCESS every year since 2000.

“The Olsrud family genuinely cares about our community and ACCESS is very thankful to have them helping feed thousands of hungry individuals and families here in Jackson County,” Philip Yates, ACCESS nutrition programs director, said in a news release.

Yates said hunger in Jackson County is a growing problem: In the 2013-14 fiscal year, ACCESS distributed more than 3.29 million pounds of food.

The Olsruds are longtime supporters of ACCESS and were instrumental in helping build the ACCESS Community Kitchen.

While the Olsrud donation was being delivered, plans were under way to launch an annual food drive for ACCESS in conjunction with a holiday light display at Greystone Court in southeast Medford. The event runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, through Christmas Eve. 

The residents of Greystone Court will be accepting donations of nonperishable food items and cash donations for ACCESS. Greystone Court is located off North Phoenix Road, about midway between Hillcrest Road and Barnett Road. Now in its 14th year, the event is expected to draw more than 4,000 vehicles.

In addition, the Food for Hope campaign sponsored by the Mail Tribune and Sherm's Thunderbird continues through the end of the year, with a goal of collecting $40,000 in donations and 30,000 pounds of food. The 2013 drive netted close to $37,000 and about 30,000 pounds of food, enough for 45,000 emergency food boxes for families across Jackson County. 

Donors can fill up a grocery bag of donations and drop the bag off at any Jackson County fire station, or any Jackson County Umpqua Bank. They can also drop off at the Mail Tribune, 111 N. Fir St.; Food 4 Less, 2230 Biddle Road; Sherm's Thunderbird, 2347 W. Main St.; the Medford Congregational Church, 1801 E. Jackson St.; Ascension Lutheran, 675 Black Oak Drive; Westminster Presbyterian, 2000 Oakwood Drive; or First Christian Church, 1900 Crater Lake Ave.

Highly sought items include non-perishable proteins such as canned meat, tuna and peanut butter, fruits and vegetables and hygiene products. Monetary donations also can be made online at www.accesshelps.org.

The group's original goal was to collect $40,000 in donations and 30,000 pounds of food by Dec. 31.

"Both of them are down," Yates said. "Often, people start thinking about donations a bit closer to Christmas. We're still 2½ weeks out. My hope is we can get people to donate. It's certainly our intent for the food to be able to see us into the new year."

Sherm Olsrud was on hand Friday as ACCESS warehouse manager Scott Denn unloaded about 23,000 pounds of food the Olsrud family donated to the agency's food pantries. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell