Portland food pantry sees demand surge, volunteer numbers dwindle due to COVID-19

Image: KPTV

PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A Portland food pantry has seen its demand increase dramatically at the same time its volunteer base is dwindling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Northeast Emergency Food Program served more than 600 families, totaling over 2,000 people, in two hours Saturday. During a typical three-hour window, NEFP serves an average of 100 families total.

Layoffs due to COVID-19 contributed to the demand. NEFP also reports becoming a hub for other food programs running low on resources and volunteers.

At the same time, volunteer numbers have dropped by two-thirds.

To meet the demand, the pantry, a program of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, estimates an investment of $200,000 and the support of the National Guard will be needed. Without the National Guard, a 90-day investment of $680,000 is estimated as the need to hire staff and supply food for the region.

The pantry is operating on a drive-through – or walk or bike – model. It is open from 1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 4800 N.E. 72nd Ave., Portland.

Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to email availability to nefp@emoregon.org.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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