Perrydale FFA annual food drive grows

Project collects 350,000 pounds of food for those in need from Dallas to Coos Bay

Students with Perrydale FFA put together food pallets to distribute to Oregon’s hungry this Christmas.

Photo by Jolene Guzman
Students with Perrydale FFA put together food pallets to distribute to Oregon’s hungry this Christmas.

PERRYDALE — Food collections for the annual Food For All drive, spearheaded by Perrydale FFA, was nearing 350,000 pounds last week.

Students at the school and the drive’s community partners are working through this week to distribute the food to where it is needed — from Dallas to Coos Bay.

For weeks, the school’s shop is a bustling hub of food deliveries and students packing pallets of fresh fruit and vegetables into packages suitable for food boxes.

Once that is finished, trucks haul the packaged food to churches, service clubs, holiday food programs and food banks to give to the needy this Christmas.

“It’s true hands-on, experiential learning happening, and through that, they are giving to their community and their state,” said Christina Lorenz, the agricultural teacher and FFA advisor for Perrydale. “Most of the food stays local, going to community outreach groups that normally wouldn’t have access to food.”

She said the drive has three new partners this year: The Dallas, Central and Stayton FFA chapters. They joined Perrydale, Yamhill-Carlton, Amity, Willamina, and Sheridan FFA chapters.

Lorenz said Les Schwab partnered with Oregon FFA to collect food this Christmas.

“Their involvement and partnership with FFA has really encouraged more participation in the project,” she said. “Every chapter is matched up with a Les Schwab store, so it’s a cool way to get kids connected with businesses in our area.”

Food For All developed a model in which students don’t just collect the food, but also solicit donations and assistance from farmers, food processing companies and trucking outlets.

“The students get to meet with those industry professionals, including CEOs of these companies, and make their presentation. It’s a really neat opportunity for them to put into practice what they are learning in the classroom, when it comes to public speaking, when it comes to pitching their ideas, answering questions,” Lorenz said. “They’re really seeing the big picture of what they are doing and all the stuff that it takes to complete a large project.”

Former Perrydale agricultural teacher and FFA advisor Kirk Hutchinson still leads the charge on Food For All as its volunteer director, Lorenz said.

“Without him, I want to say it wouldn’t be possible,” Lorenz said. “He puts a tremendous amount of time and money into this program. The Lower Willamette FFA District is just very thankful for his contribution and the time he’s willing to put into developing students and giving back to his state.”

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