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Community asked to help stock food pantry shelves

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Marcee Champion and Chris Bosse work on stocking a refrigerator of the Access mobile unit Thursday at the White City library.
Jackson County organizations collecting food and funds

Marcee Champion was working at the ACCESS mobile food pantry set up Thursday at the White City library when a woman walked up and donated $5.

Using bulk buying power with local vendors and discounted prices on groceries through the Oregon Food Bank, ACCESS is able to convert every donated dollar into four meals, said Champion, food programs director for the Medford-based nonprofit group.

“I always want people to know that here, every dollar counts,” she said. “Every dollar translates into four meals. A woman saw us and came up and gave us $5. With that $5, that’s 20 meals we can provide for the community. Don’t think, ‘My contribution is too small.’ Every dollar is monumentally appreciated.”

ACCESS has kicked off its 38th annual Food for Hope food and fund drive with a goal to collect 10,000 pounds of food and $30,000 for its network of local food banks.

Food for Hope is the largest annual community food and fund drive to fight hunger in Jackson County, according to ACCESS.

Every year, Champion said, ACCESS sees increased need for food help over the holidays. Community donations are key to meeting that increased need.

This year, Jackson County residents are facing escalating prices for groceries, gas and other basic needs.

The global economy is bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic and demand is rising. But food producers and grocery stores are struggling with shortages of workers and supplies, higher labor costs and transportation woes. That translates into inflated food prices, economists say.

“With food prices increasing and the lingering effects of the pandemic, there is so much need for food in our community right now. The Food for Hope food and fund drive helps ACCESS stock up the shelves in our food pantries so we can get it to hungry families struggling this holiday season and into the new year,” said ACCESS Executive Director Carrie Borgen.

Adding to the struggle in Jackson County, many people are still recovering from the Almeda and South Obenchain fires that destroyed 2,500 homes and more than 170 businesses in September 2020.

Local businesses are teaming up with ACCESS to make giving convenient during the Food for Hope drive.

Grocery bags will be distributed in the Mail Tribune print edition Sunday plus the Savor food publication Wednesday, Nov. 24. Bags will also be available at Food 4 Less and Sherm’s Thunderbird Market.

ACCESS is asking people to fill bags with nonperishable food items and drop them off at ACCESS, 3630 Aviation Way, Medford; Food 4 Less, 2230 Biddle Road, Medford; Sherm’s Thunderbird Market, 2347 W. Main St., Medford; Jackson County Umpqua Bank locations and local fire stations by Dec. 31.

The most needed items are cold and hot cereal, peanut butter, canned meat like tuna and chicken, pasta and canned goods such as soup, vegetables and fruit.

Costal Farm & Ranch is matching up to $1,000 in cash donations. Tax deductible monetary donations can be made online at www.accesshelps.org/foodforhope or mailed to ACCESS, P.O. Box 4666, Medford, OR 97501.

The Food for Hope food and fund drive is sponsored by Sherm’s Thunderbird, Food 4 Less and Rosebud Media, which includes the Mail Tribune. For more information, email donorsupport@accesshelps.org.

Last year, ACCESS distributed 5.2 million pounds of food to feed more than 44,000 people in Jackson County.

Champion said having access to a food back is a vital lifeline for those in need.

“Having a consistent place to get food help is such a mental, emotional and financial relief for people. A lot of people say, ‘This saved my life,’” she said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.