November will mark Northeast Emergency Food Program’s tenth anniversary in the Cully neighborhood, in the basement of Luther Memorial Lutheran Church at 4800 N.E. 72nd Ave. Established by Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon over 30 years ago in the Vernon neighborhood, the center offers needy neighbors food, clothing and other household necessities.
Since moving to Cully in 2007, the food program has undergone radical changes. Formerly offering pre-made boxes of pantry staples and limited fresh foods, volunteers and staff used the increased space to set up a mini grocery store that allowed clients to select their own groceries.
“Over the years, the amount of fresh foods, including fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat has increased substantially,” said executive director Travis Niemann, “and as of this past year, we distributed close to a million pounds of food.”
The center also houses a clothing room, strongly supported by Luther Memorial, that distributes approximately 50,000 items of clothing each year, Niemann added.
In addition to a dozen church congregations supporting the program, most of the food is acquired through the Oregon Food Bank, donations and federally allocated products, both fresh and non-perishable. Donating businesses include New Seasons, Whole Foods, Safeway and Marsee Baking. With the center having progressed from serving 800 families a year to an impressive 800 families a month, Nieman cautioned that “there are many more families facing crisis and food shortage. We have a legacy of service to those in need, and the program has always been run with a philosophy of neighbors serving neighbors.”
Niemann said the program’s fit with Cully is a good one. “I could not think of a better neighborhood to do this in than Cully.”
For more information about the Northeast Emergency Food Program, visit www.emoregon.org.