Editorial: Even in spring food bank donations are still needed

April 20, 2011

People of Hood River traditionally have been generous in supporting its food banks.

There are four locations in the county for helping people who need some help in keeping food on the table. Children, families and the elderly all benefit from local donations and the volunteer efforts of food bank workers in Hood River, Odell, Parkdale and Cascade Locks. As of last month, all four food banks are now operated by FISH. That kind of continuity will help everyone in the long run.

Fruit growers donate fresh local fruit and the stores are often stocked with other produce and vitals such as eggs, milk and bread.

FISH always receives a major influx of donations in November and December, but food insecurity is a problem all year long.

Almost 55 percent of Hood River County school children are eligible for free and reduced meals in the schools.

However, for children who need it, that important source of nutrition goes away between mid-June and early September (with the exception of limited offerings in the summer).

According to the nonprofit Children First 2010 data report, 1,097 children in Hood River County under age 18 (19.4 percent) are living in poverty.

With Oregon's unemployment rate still well above the national average at 11.1 percent, and (food stamp) enrollment at an all time high, many families in Oregon are living on the brink, teetering on the edge of poverty, according to Children First.

(The Hood River unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.)

But you can't eat statistics. For plenty of people who have no idea what numbers apply to their trying daily situations, a place such as FISH is a vital service.

There are several ways to help, including a drop box at the Hood River site for nonperishable, current-dated, unopened food items.

Curves, on the Heights, is also accepting donations through Monday.

Checks may be mailed to: FISH food bank c/o Becky Bugge, 3481 Ehrck Hill Road, Hood River, OR 97031.

If you want to go shopping for FISH, buy some cooking oil - everyone needs it - and canned fruits, vegetables, beans, protein foods and baking items. Think about what you like to serve your family, and how good that feels to have choices in the pantry.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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