Oregon Launches Largest Annual Food Drive

Written by: Mirella Barrera-Betancourt

Oregon’s largest annual food drive, Governor’s State Employees Food Drive, began accepting donations on Feb. 1. The Food Drive runs through the entire month of February.

Throughout the month, state agencies, commissioners, board members and state employees come together to work in partnership with the Regional Food Banks to support the Oregon Food Bank Network. Many state agencies hold fundraising events to enlist the support of community partners.

Due to adaptations resulting from COVID-19, this year’s Food Drive will take place mostly virtually, allowing agencies the option to participate through online payment methods, such as payroll deductions and check and/or credit card payments. 

The payments are made directly to the Regional Food Bank facilities and stay in the local area in which the donation was made, unless the donor specifically declares the desire for otherwise. The main beneficiaries of the Regional Food Bank’s are the Food Pantry on the Western campus — who receive the majority of their donations from Marion Polk Food Share — and the Ella Curran Food Bank.

State employees may also make a donation by participating in the Governor’s Challenge — by pledging to donate a minimum of $144 to the Food Bank of their choice. The options are an annual, one-time monetary donation of $144 or a continuous monthly donation of $12.

This year, Abby’s House will be leading the drive, with Maria Barrera Diaz — the Basic Needs Coordinator for Abby’s House — as the agency coordinator. 

According to Diaz, the month sees Western departments engaging in a friendly competition to see who can raise the most earnings. At the end of the month, each department’s contributions will be surveyed and the winning department receives a prize in the form of lunch — paid for by Western President Jesse Peters. 

As the Food Drive gets underway, students, staff and faculty can make a difference through in-kind donations. As always, Western’s Food Pantry will be accepting canned food, such as soups, canned fruit and vegetables and other nonperishable items. Contributors can also write a check directly to the Food Pantry.

According to the Governor’s Food Drive’s official page, the most sought after food donations are whole grain foods — pasta, rice, cereal — fruits and vegetables, canned meat, peanut butter and beans.

As an incentive to get people involved, Abby’s House will also be holding a tie-dying event, where anyone who donates food or monetary gifts will receive a shirt to tie-dye. Keep an eye out on their social media for official dates.

State employees have been working towards a hunger-free Oregon since the food drive’s establishment by Governor Vic Atiyeh in 1982.

Western has been a decades long-standing contributor to the Governor’s Food Drive. Although, over the years, Western’s significant contributions to the drive have gradually fallen. In earlier years, Western had donated the most to the Food Drive than any other university institution in Oregon. Now, the title of champion has fallen to Oregon State University.

Nonetheless, Western continues to persevere. Last year at Western, a total of $1296 was raised in support of the Governor’s Food Drive. This amounts to 161 pounds of food; a significant quantity.

For more information on the Governor’s State Employees Food Drive, visit www.oregon.gov/fooddrive. For more information on how to support the Food Drive at Western, individuals can contact Abby’s House at abbyshouse@wou.edu or the Food Pantry at foodpantry@wou.edu.

Contact the author at howlnews@wou.edu