Helping Businesses Reduce Hunger and Waste

Featured Food Rescue Agency

Agencies in the Portland region work hard to feed hungry Oregonians.  Read about their efforts.

Featured Agency: St. Vincent de Paul of Portland


St. Vincent de Paul Food Recovery Network operates a model food recovery program.


Get to know the St. Vincent de Paul Food Recovery Network, one of dozens of food rescue programs in the region getting perishable and prepared food to hungry people


With the current economic crisis affecting an increasing number of Oregon residents, St. Vincent de Paul's Sharon Hills believes food donations have grown more important than ever.


"It's not just gas prices anymore," says Hills. "Folks can't cover their utilities, rent, child care, health care and food. They struggle to use their dollars the best way possible – including keeping a roof over their heads – and then they get food from us."


St. Vincent de Paul provided nourishment for more than 400,000 hungry Oregonians last year through "conferences" – groups of 1,500 volunteers who distribute food – churches and nonprofits. From fresh fruits and vegetables to frozen meats, casseroles and soup, families and individuals at lower incomes receive items that round out what they may get in a typical food box. Says Hills: "We want to make sure people who are hungry get all the nutrients they need – not just hollow calories."


The organization strives to make the process smooth for donors and food recipients alike. With refrigerated trucks at the ready, it operates a daily schedule to pick up items from participating businesses and can retrieve donations during evenings and weekends by appointment. Using strict industry guidelines for safe food handling, volunteers and staff then repackage and freeze the items for easy single-meal reheating.


Hills notes that there isn't a typical person who receives a food box, which offers a week's worth of sustenance. "We provide meals for every scenario of a family, whether single-parent, two-parent or headed by grandparents. Our clients look just like all other families."


And Hills is sure that many more businesses want to help. "We find that the restaurants, cafeterias and institutional kitchens that work with St. Vincent de Paul think it's important to donate their excess product for us to give back to the community, rather than just throw needed food away."