PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As high inflation puts pressure on families, a food bank is getting funds to renovate its facilities while expanding in Portland and The Dalles.

According to a press release, The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust awarded the Oregon Food Bank $1.2 million. The announcement said 1.7 million people visited an Oregon Food Bank partner for food at the peak of the pandemic – almost twice as many people who visited in 2019.

“The work of organizations like the Oregon Food Bank is crucial to making sure every individual and family has access to nutritious food,” said Steve Moore, Executive Director of the M.J Murdock Charitable Trust. “Fresh, locally grown food is abundant in the Pacific Northwest, yet those facing food insecurity rarely have access to such resources. These renovations will greatly change that, and we are grateful to play a small role in supporting the innovative, sustainable solutions brought forward by the Oregon Food Bank.”

The renovations will allow the food bank to increase its capacity to accept, store and transform donations of fresh foods to communities throughout Oregon and southwest Washington by expanding its refrigeration capacity, added the press release.

Since 2017, the Murdock Trust says it has contributed more than $102 million through 492 grants to nonprofits serving communities in Oregon and more than $1.2 billion in grants to the Pacific Northwest region overall since opening its doors in 1975.

Many of the renovations are taking place at the food bank’s statewide warehouse in Portland, which serves 21 regional food banks and 1,400 partner agencies across Oregon and Clark County.

“Until now, this has been one of the most underserved regions in Oregon — and at the outset of COVID-19, there were parts of this region that received no service whatsoever,” said Sharon Thornberry, rural communities’ liaison at the Oregon Food Bank.

Other portions of the donation will be used at a new warehouse and community space under construction for the Columbia Gorge Food Bank. About 30% of the population served from The Dalles location includes Latino and tribal communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, said the announcement.

With these changes, the Columbia Gorge Food Bank hopes to meet its goal of providing an additional 1.6 million pounds of fresh, locally grown and nutritious food by June 2024.

The Oregon Food Bank Network is gearing up for increased need in the summer months when school meals are no longer provided and wildfire season begins, noted the press release.