Portland police officer delivers food boxes to those in need

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 4:22 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - It’s a partnership 100 years strong with no signs of slowing down.

For the last century, the Sunshine Division has served food-insecure Portlanders and Portland Police Officers have been by their side the whole time. Since the start of the pandemic nearly three years ago, delivering boxes of food to those in need has become just as important as the Sunshine Division’s pick-up location. That’s where Portland Police Officer Rashida Saunders comes in.

“I decided to apply to be the Sunshine Division Officer because I always believe in service,” Saunders said. “I grew up in Portland so it’s always been near and dear to me to be a police officer.”

Saunders worked as a patrol officer for the police bureau for 10 years before becoming the police liaison for the Sunshine Division. Prior to the newest bridge between the two organizations, Saunders had prior experience with the position.

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“My mom did the best that she could, but we received boxes from the Sunshine Division,” Saunders said. “So it’s kind of full circle to know that I’m the officer delivering food boxes to the community that I grew up in.”

FOX 12 rode along with Saunders for delivery to a North Portland apartment complex. The day’s recipient, Richard Hunter, is an elderly man who lives on a fixed income.

“When you’re working patrol and responding to 911 calls there is a level of excitement in that too because you want to get there as quickly as possible to help right?” Saunders said. “Someone is calling you, you want to respond quickly, and you want to be effective once you get on the scene. It’s a little different when you’re delivering a food box. The same excitement is there. There’s a need and you’re able to respond to that need.”

When Saunders arrived, Hunter was there waiting for his delivery. Since the pandemic began, he’s been one of many Portlanders that rely on the Sunshine Division’s delivery service.

“The tradition that they have done for so long, it has helped people, and it’s one of my favorite places,” Saunders said. “I’ve been to a lot of different places but Sunshine Division is number one.”

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Hunter is not the only one who’s been turning to the Sunshine Division for help. The organization said when the pandemic began, the number of people coming to them grew too. With the expiration of pandemic-era food benefits and the beginning of the month, the Sunshine Division said they saw an increase in people looking for food assistance within the first week. As more people turn to the Sunshine Division for help, Saunders will be there to respond to those calls.

“People don’t typically think to call the police when they need food,” Saunders said. “They call us when they’ve been robbed, they’ve been assaulted, or if someone broke into their car. Knowing this service we offer, it’s critical it’s super important.”

If you’d like to help out the Sunshine Division is always looking for donations and volunteers. You can also make a difference by rounding up your next Fred Meyer bill to the nearest dollar and that donation will go straight to a food bank in your community. You can also make a larger donation to the FOX 12 Hunger Free Project by clicking here.