Organizations unite to deliver 600 bags of food amid coronavirus crisis

Coronavirus

Non-profits Clay Street Table and The Giving Tree combined forces to make the deliveries

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Charitable groups are combining forces to deliver 600 grocery bags to vulnerable populations as the novel coronavirus pandemic shuts down their normal options.

Paul Davis is the director of Clay Street Table, a charitable organization that normally operates a pantry for people to come and pick up free food. However, they’ve had to shut down their regular operation to heed social distancing. Instead, they’ve organized multiple non-profits, churches, and volunteers to pack and deliver groceries to individual apartments to reduce the risk of contact while keeping people fed.

A volunteer loads up his car with grocery bags to be delivered to vulnerable populations around the downtown Portland area. April 23, 2020 (KOIN/Danny Peterson).

“We’re providing over 600 bags of food to 20 different apartment buildings,” Davis said. “600 households are getting food today. That comes from Oregon Food Bank food but it also comes from other food that’s being donated and food drives that have happened,” he said.

The effort is in partnership with The Giving Tree, another charitable organization.

“What we’re trying to do is reduce the amount of contact of residents, many of whom are very vulnerable, from having to go out to pantries or to the grocery store or outside,” said Gloria Lee, The Giving Tree’s executive director.

Lee explained that the pantry caters primarily to downtown Portland residents. The buildings the food bags were delivered to were primarily affordable housing and subsidized housing locations downtown who are normally customers of the pantry. In the past, the pantry amassed about 50 people at a time, once per month. They were held at various locations, like churches.

The assembly and delivery of the grocery bags were done out of First Christian Church near the South Park Blocks downtown Thursday. The operation lasted throughout the day with groups of four volunteers at a time, in shifts, who all utilized social distancing and wore masks and gloves. Over a dozen volunteers contributed in total, including some from First Unitarian Church and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Parish.

A volunteer loads her car full of grocery bags to be delivered to people’s homes amid coronavirus response. April 23, 2020 (KOIN/Danny Peterson).

The bags of groceries are curated to contain culturally-specific food, Davis said. They’ve also received a donation of 800 face masks from the Oregon Chinese Coalition, which were also delivered to residents receiving the groceries.

In addition to the food deliveries to apartments, which Davis hopes to do at least once per month as long as the pandemic stay-at-home orders are in place, Clay Street Table has continued its effort of delivering sack lunches to people experiencing homelessness around the South Park Blocks six days per week. The effort is being assisted by non-profit HomePDX and St. Michael Catholic Church.

Clay Street Table also provided Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office with 100 bags of food for them to deliver to camps of people experiencing homelessness, said Stephanie Opoka, the non-profit pantry manager

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