$300,000 could buy a lot of food by Pat Farr

“$300,000 isn’t much to give to help the Occupy cause!”

I called to wish a friend a happy birthday last night and that became the topic of our conversation.

With a series of 5-3 and 4-4 votes split by the Mayor, the City Manager in fact has up to $300,000 to spend on relocation of the Occupy Eugene and other campers now located in the Washington Jefferson Park.  I’ve been told that amount of money is not much to give…

If you go to FOOD for Lane County’s website this morning, the first thing you will see is a statement:

Give a gift that gives, Your Gift of $1 can provide 3 meals this Holiday Season DONATE TODAY”

Go to the website now.  It’s not an exaggeration or mere conjecture.  One dollar will provide three hot adult meals.  When I served as Executive Director of FOOD for Lane County, after leaving the Oregon Legislature to do so, I determined that each dollar donated locally leveraged 7 pounds of food for hungry kids and men and women.  The number doesn’t seem to have changed much.

Do the math.  Can we spend $300,000 more effectively in addressing the day to day needs of the hungry and homeless in our community?  $300,000 by this measure, which is accurate, could provide nine hundred thousand meals–nearly a million meals–for hungry people.  That is about three hundred thousand full days of meals.  That is more than 871 food years for an adult. An oversimplification?  Perhaps, but these are actual numbers reported by the most innovative and successful regional food bank in Oregon, perhaps in the nation.

The people of Eugene and Lane County are happy to help FOOD for Lane County.  On a regular basis.  Over the past two weekends mail carriers brought 163,951 pounds of food into FOOD for Lane County and its affiliates warehouses, a record number.

I have spoken this week with Beverlee Hughes, FOOD’s Executive Director and Terry McDonald of St. Vincent DePaul, one of FFLC’s largest food pantries, and both report how frighteningly low the supply of protein food (such as tuna fish, peanut butter, etc.) is in the warehouses.  How hungry local kids and men and women are in jeopardy of losing their supply.

164,000 pounds of food is a lot.  But that is less than 3% of FFLC’s annual distribution of food.

“$300,000 isn’t much to give…”  True.  But shouldn’t we be more judicious about how and where we give it?


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