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Gleaners accepting new families

The Itemizer-Observer took second place for overall General Excellence in the largest ciruclation category for weekly newspapers in the annual Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association's annual Better Newspaper Contest.

Photo By R. Ashley Smith

The Itemizer-Observer took second place for overall General Excellence in the largest ciruclation category for weekly newspapers in the annual Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association's annual Better Newspaper Contest.

July 23, 2002

POLK COUNTY -- The Marion-Polk Gleaners, a local food assistance program, is accepting new families.

The Gleaners have distributed food to low-income residents for more than 25 years with no government assistance or taxpayer support.

The food is distributed five days a week from two locations -- one in Dallas and one in Salem.

The Gleaners serve some 1,000 families per week. Recipients receive food once a week.

The Oregon Food Bank and its affiliates also provide limited assistance, giving one food box a month. In Dallas, a family can received only one food box every three months.

Unfortunately, this just isn't enough for a large family struggling to get by every week due to low wages and unemployment, said Kathy Chiles, executive director of the Gleaners.

"In my opinion, they just aren't providing enough for the ongoing needs of the poor," said Chiles.

"The food bank is great for a family in temporary crisis but the families we serve are in continual need."

Since last fall, the Gleaners have been struggling to recover the loss of food from their major donor who contributed bimonthly for the past 10 years.

Chiles said the Oregon Food Bank dominates most of the food industry's donations. This has forced the Gleaners to go out-of-state for donations.

"This has put a great burden on the Gleaners program because of the enormous freight costs," Chiles said.

It costs almost $3,000 a month to bring this food into Oregon, she said.

"Unlike the Oregon Food Bank, Marion-Polk Gleaners receives no outside funding and is totally self-sufficient," she added.

"Now that we are back on our feet with enough food to go around, we are inviting new families to come in and receive help. Our actual gleaning activities are limited now since there are so few farmers left in our area.

"We do provide a good variety of nutritionally balanced foods for our clients to choose from."

Chiles said much has been accomplished since a management change two years ago.

"We have added much-needed equipment, additional warehouses and vehicles and we have even been able to compensate some of our staff who have been volunteering full time for years.

"We have our ups and downs, but overall, the program is doing well. Our goal is to help those in need."

The Dallas Gleaners facility is open Monday from 1:30 to 5 p.m. and Thursday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and is located at 888 Monmouth Cutoff Road, Building E.

More information is available by calling 503-831-5634.

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