New ‘food pantry’ helps feed Glenfair families

Find out why so many folks turned out to celebrate the new Community School Food Pantry at Glenfair Elementary …

Thanks to the new program, fresh fruits and vegetables will be available every week to clients of the Community School Food Pantry at Glenfair Elementary.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

So many representatives of governmental, nonprofit, and service agencies came out to commemorate the Community School Food Pantry at Glenfair Elementary School, on February 3, that the room was packed standing-room-only with celebrants.

Although it in the Reynolds School District, Glenfair Elementary serves students and families living in this outer East Portland neighborhood.

The school has operated a modest food pantry in the past, said Metropolitan Family Service Glenfair Sun School Site Manager Celia Flaim. But, thanks to a $1.3 million grant from the Portland Children’s Levy to the Oregon Food Bank, she said, new and expanded food pantries are being opened at schools such as Glenfair.

-2 Metropolitan Family Service Glenfair Sun School Site Manager Celia Flaim, and AmeriCorps member at Glenfair Zachary Chihuaque, welcome guests to the gathering.

“The idea is to provide healthy foods to under-served neighborhoods where lack of infrastructure severely limits family nutritional choices,” Flaim told East Portland News.

“Thanks to this funding, we can provide both fresh foods and packaged goods to the approximately 60 families we serve,” elaborated Flaim. “We look to be serving a few more families by the end of the school year.

“At the same time, we want to keep the food pantry program sustainable,” Flaim added. “We want to create a foundation, before trying to serve many more families.”

Having fresh, healthy food available is just part of the benefit the program brings, Flaim commented. “It brings in parents and community members; so, we are able to communicate with them, and hear about what resources they need. This might include things like energy and housing assistance.”

Food Pantry clients learn what kinds of food will be available to them.

She’s happy to come to outer East Portland to see this new food pantry being opened, says Multnomah County Board Chair Deborah Kafoury.

Multnomah County has long been a supporter of the Food Pantry Program, County Board Chair Deborah Kafoury told East Portland News. “It’s been a priority for me personally. I know the kids can’t learn unless their tummies are full. This is a good way to not only help the kids, but also their families.”

The reason Kafoury made the trip to the mid-County area, far from her office, she said, is that “We recognize there is a significant portion of Multnomah County that extends east of 82nd Avenue of Roses, and as Chair, I represent this area as well. I am very happy to be here.”

Metropolitan Family Service Chief Executive Officer Judy Strand celebrates with Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Also on hand was Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, the long-time champion of the Portland Children’s Levy. “It’s because voters approved the Levy that we’re able to get involved in fighting hunger in a way that it’s convenient for families here to access.”

Multnomah County Board Chair Deborah Kafoury applauds the efforts of the many participating agencies, as Reynolds School District Superintendent Linda Flores tells about the need for services in the area.

On behalf of Glenfair Elementary, Reynolds School District Superintendent Linda Flores said, “This is wonderful, seeing so many organizations come together to serve our families in need.

“More than 80% of our children are coming from poverty, and from homes that are qualified for free or reduced price lunches,” Flores continued. “This is great for our kids and our families. We serve free breakfast at all the relevant entry schools, and free lunch; this helps our children get nutrition and food that they need for after-school, and for weekends.”

One of the Glenfair Food Pantry’s clients, Araceli Hernandez, here holding baby Devanhi, says she’s happy to be included in the program.

Several food pantry clients were at the celebration, including Araceli Hernandez.

“This is a great idea,” Hernandez smiled, through an interpreter. “I am very happy with the service is that it provides for me. My husband’s work is been a little slow, and I don’t work because I’m taking care of the children.

“Having this food here has been a big support for me and my family,” Hernandez said.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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