Northwest Farmers Launch Fighting Hunger Food/Cash Drive'
Donation Goal is $100,000 + 100,000 lbs. of Food
Northwest Dairy Farmers and Fred Meyer stores are launching a month long "Northwest Farmers Fighting Hunger" food and cash drive to benefit Feeding America affiliates; Food Lifeline, 2nd Harvest, and the Oregon Food Bank during June Dairy Month.
The effort is supported by the Washington State Department of Agriculture and Oregon Department of Agriculture, and representatives from Washington and Oregon's agricultural commodity commissions and is led by the Dairy Farmers of Washington and Oregon.
Washington State Department of Agriculture's Director Bud Hover and Oregon Department of Agriculture Director Katy Coba have a keen interest in their state's network of emergency food providers and have toured local food banks.
"With all the food that is grown and enjoyed in Washington, no one should go hungry. Yet, today one in five of our neighbors require some assistance from a food bank," Hover said. "I hope that this food drive - and the partnerships among dairy farmers, ranchers, and growers in both states will bring us together so we can all help feed the hungry among us."
During June, collection bins will be placed at every Fred Meyer store in Washington and Oregon to collect canned goods and other non-perishable food items baby food and disposal diapers are also excellent donations.
A direct mail postcard will be sent to 136,000 select Fred Meyer customers. The postcard features a discount coupon for a local dairy product and also has a barcode that can be scanned at the checkout stand so shoppers can make a direct cash contribution to their local food assistance organization.
"Our goal is to raise $100,000 and 100,000 lbs. of donated food," said Jeff Steele, director of retail marketing and business development for the Washington Dairy Products Commission.
For many, June means the end of the school year but for a seemingly increasing number, summer also means the end of the school breakfast and lunch programs until the fall. The number of children qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches at Washington's public schools has shot up from 390,000 in 2008 to 470,000 last year.
June is also a difficult time for food banks. During the holidays people are very generous but six months later donations tail off while the demand actually increases.
The USDA reports that the number of Washington families experiencing food insecurities has risen from 88,000 households in 2008 to 163,000 households in 2011 a 90% increase. That equates to 15.4% of Washington households who are regularly struggling to get enough food for their families. It's about one-half percent higher than the national average.
Hunger is at an all-time high in Oregon. In an average month, an estimated 270,000 people in Oregon and Clark County, Washington, ate meals from emergency food boxes during the past year. Of those, almost 92,000 were children.
"The Agriculture Departments in both states have done a great job of raising awareness about hunger and food challenges across the region," added Steele. "Dairy farmers in Washington and Oregon, along with Fred Meyer, are committed to reducing hunger and malnutrition by raising awareness of the problem and increasing access to nutrient-rich foods like dairy."
Donations made at Fred Meyer stores west of the Cascades will go to Food Lifeline while donations made at Fred Meyer stores east of the Cascades will go to 2nd Harvest.
Donations made in Clark County, Washington, and Oregon will go to the Oregon Food Bank who works in tandem with the Clark County Food Bank.
Secure donations may be made at 110 Fred Meyer locations in Oregon and Washington. Cash donations can be made at Fred Meyer check-out registers and at www.havemilk.com.