Demand clears shelves at Salvation Army pantry

Shelves usually stocked with canned vegetables, spaghetti sauce, rice and fruit at the Salvation Army's food pantry were empty for the first time on Wednesday.

"We have been inundated with people," said Jackie Agee, Salvation Army development director. "This week has been unbelievably busy."

The pantry was left with just a few packages of pasta, broth and rice on Wednesday. Staff members gave away all items, including those in its emergency box.

They had to turn several people away without food, Agee said.

Since Monday, the pantry served about 100 people per day. Usually, Agee said, the pantry feeds about half that number.

"It caught us by surprise," she said.

Staff from the food pantry purchased enough canned food, pasta and tuna fish at Food 4 Less Thursday morning to last until today.

Demand for food at the Salvation Army's food pantry typically increases near the end of the month, but demand in the last week has spiked, Agee said.

The pantry gives out food bags every day containing five days' worth of food for two people. The pantry also holds dinners every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Hawthorne Park. Agee said these events usually feed more than 200 people each week.

"People come when their food stamps are gone," she said. "Some people have told us that this is the only food they're going to get all day."

Jackie Schad, executive director for ACCESS, which manages a network of food pantries in Jackson County, said ACCESS's Food Share program will donate extra canned foods and fresh produce from its Food Share Gardens to help with the Salvation Army's low supply.

Schad said ACCESS also has seen an increase in demand for food in the last few months. But during the summer, she said, ACCESS and other nonprofits that serve low-income and homeless populations typically see food donations decline.

"Every summer we're stretched a bit thin," she said.

The Salvation Army receives food every Monday from ACCESS's Food Share program, which provides food to 24 pantries in Jackson County. Philip Yates, Food Share nutrition programs manager, said the Salvation Army is the program's largest pantry. The pantry received about 23,000 pounds of food each month from ACCESS last year, he said.

Aside from the extra help from ACCESS, Agee said the pantry is asking for public donations of canned food or monetary donations to help purchase food.

Donations can be dropped off at the Salvation Army Thrift Store at 922 N. Central Ave., or at its church location at 304 Beatty St., both in Medford. Cash donations can be mailed to the Salvation Army, P.O. Box 757, Medford, OR 97501.

Reach University of Oregon reporting intern Josephine Woolington at 541-776-4368 or

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