Mobile food pantry coming to Eagle Point

The community of Eagle Point will have a new way to feed hungry people starting Monday thanks to local volunteers and the new ACCESS Mobile Food Distribution Program, officials said.

The nonprofit agency's mobile food program consists of one 22-foot-long truck — filled with nutritious food — and equipped with sliding doors on each side. Once the doors are opened, clients can "shop" the truck's shelves with assistance from volunteers outside the truck. Awnings on the truck protect volunteers and the hungry — rain or shine, said Philip Yates, ACCESS Inc. Nutrition Program director.

St. John Lutheran Church, located at 42 Alta Vista Road, will host the ACCESS food truck every Monday from 3:30 to 6 p.m., he said.

The first of its kind in Jackson County, the program bridges the need to feed the hungry without creating additional challenges for those who want to help, he said.

"We've had some trouble getting additional pantries opened in the community," Yates said. "We looked to churches, but they often don't have the space to dedicate to a food pantry. They have other needs — like child care. This provides a way for churches to participate without having to give up space."

Foods available via the delivery system include canned goods, packaged dry food, meats, fresh fruits and vegetables in season, and refrigerated and frozen foods, he said.

ACCESS Food Share provides food for more than 3,200 families each month, and that number continues to rise as the economy forces more people to seek assistance. In Jackson County, the number of people seeking food support increased by more than 8 percent from 2008-09 to 2009-10. Children represent 38 percent of those ACCESS is helping to feed, Yates said.

About six volunteers will be needed each Monday to help families check in and to assist them in selection of groceries from the mobile outreach services vehicle. Volunteers will also help ACCESS staff with record-keeping, set-up, clean-up and other details of the program. Eagle Point Community Bible Church and several other Eagle Point-area congregations will join St. John in providing financial support and volunteer workers, he said.

"To date, about 30 volunteers have signed up to help and others are welcome," Yates said.

The church hopes to arrange the schedule so that volunteers will need to serve just one Monday per month or less. Volunteers also may not need to serve the entire three-hour shift, but may share that time with another person, he said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail

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