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ACCESS drive meets canned food goal, but cash donations are way down

Two-thirds into the month, a key campaign for one of the Rogue Valley’s largest nonprofits has fully met one goal, but it’s only a third of the way towards another.

ACCESS’ 36th annual Food for Hope grocery bag drive has already surpassed its goal for the season by collecting more than 10,000 pounds of nonperishable food donations, according to Kellie Battaglia, the nonprofit’s development director. Another part of the campaign, however, is well below its goal — that's the one that gives the agency the flexibility to buy exactly the food items that tens of thousands of Southern Oregonians need.

The fundraising portion of the December campaign focused on ACCESS’ largest program by numbers served had raised $10,377 towards its $30,000 goal.

Battaglia is keeping a steadfastly optimistic outlook as she described a nearly $20,000 shortfall.

“It’s amazing how this community always comes through,” Battaglia said. “We couldn’t do what we do and feed the hungry without their help.”

Of the 52,497 Jackson County residents that ACCESS helped over the past year, more than 31,000 were through its nutrition program, according to numbers provided by Battaglia. In both instances, nearly a third of those Jackson County residents were children. Another key demographic that the nonprofit serves is senior citizens on fixed incomes.

Although the agency still has plenty of room for canned food donations, Battaglia said cash donations give the agency more flexibility to purchase “gaps” in the nutritious foods that may be missing from its pantry shelves.

ACCESS is able to buy the right quantity of the right foods at steeply discounted rates, according to Battaglia.

The nonprofit’s buying power gives allows one dollar to translate to four meals. ACCESS gets steep discounts compared to the food prices regular shoppers see at the grocery store by purchasing food at the statewide level through the Oregon Food Bank — along with partnerships at the local level with area grocery stores.

Most of the food Access distributed was purchased. Last year they distributed nearly 5 million pounds of food.

“It has an impact,” Battaglia said. “We rely on the community’s generosity to meet the need.”

Despite meeting the canned food portion of Access’ goal, food donations are still welcome.

“We’re always accepting both food and funds,” Battaglia said. “We can always use it.”

To donate see accesshelps.org/foodforhope or text “Food for Hope to 44321.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

A volunteer helps a girl vegetables at the Access food pantry in Medford First Christian Church. Donations to the annual ACCESS Food for Hope drive are lagging. Mail Tribune file photo.