DALLAS — Dressed in Halloween costumes, the Dallas High School Interact Club collected nearly 200 pounds of food donations for the Dallas Food Bank on Oct. 25.
Dallas Food Bank
Where: 322 Main St., Dallas.
When: Monday through Friday, 9 to 11:30 a.m.
For more information: For those in need of assistance, 503-623-3578; To donate or volunteer, call Eddie Nelson at 503-857-5042.
“It was a lot of fun because we got to dress up in our costumes,” said club member Olivia Molina. “It was basically like trick-or-treating, but instead getting of candy for us to eat, we were getting food to donate to other people.”
The door-to-door excursion took about 30 minutes and gathered 199 pounds of food, the equivalent of $258.70 in donations.
Eddie Nelson, the food bank’s treasurer, told members of the club that Dallas Food Bank serves an average of 284 families, equaling 1,106 people in a month.
“That is 6 percent of the population of Dallas. So, we have a high need for food in this community, so what you did was wonderful,” Nelson told the group at its meeting on Wednesday afternoon. “Isn’t it amazing that people were so generous?”
She said the food bank has enrolled 284 new families as of Sept. 30.
Nelson gave the club members a history of the food bank, which opened in 1983 as a partnership among local churches. Soon, they figured the need was too great to run out of a church and had to find a permanent location.
Today, the food bank has 35 volunteers and strong support from the community through food donations and through grants that supplement shipments from Marion-Polk Food Share.
Nelson said the food bank was recently remodeled to allow clients to “shop” for their food, a more efficient use of resources. The work was paid for with a grant.
“They can pick the food that their family would use instead of it just being given to them and have it go to waste,” Nelson said. “We find that our families are a lot happier and they only take what they need.”
The Dallas Community Foundation provided the food bank with a grant to purchase protein-rich foods.
“To balance out our food baskets, we want to make sure our families have a lot of protein,” Nelson said. “With this grant money, we buy peanut butter, tuna, milk, eggs — high-protein items — so that our families can have the protein they need instead of just eating a lot of carbs.”
Molina said she was impressed with how the food bank started.
“I didn’t know that they started out as a church-based group,” she said. “I thought that was pretty cool that Dallas came together as a community to fill the need.”
As the holiday season approaches, the need is greater.
Nelson said the food bank collects items for tradition holiday meals. She said dinner rolls, gravy packets, cranberry sauce and canned yams are in demand.
“All the stuff to go along with a turkey,” she said.
Non-food items, such as aluminum foil, paper towels, toilet paper, laundry soap, dish soap and personal hygiene items, are always needed. 0
“They don’t get them on their food stamps, so we’ve actually written grants to receive some of that so we can give our families toilet paper and bars of soap and dish detergent and that stuff. Their personal hygiene is really important, too.”
Nelson encouraged the club members to recommend the food bank to people who might need the help.
“There is no age limit as far as people who can access our food bank,” Nelson said. “If you do know of a family that’s in need, please encourage them to come down and access the food bank.”