Giving has been good this year with One Community Health’s annual Cherry Harvest Migrant Farmworker Food Drive. In fact, very good.
The annual fundraiser had a record year with $3,400 in donations. The contributions were gifted by OCH staff and “friends,” or various community supporters, who joined in to contribute their dollars as well.
With proceeds, the food bank in turn purchased 12,240 pounds of food which is being distributed to migrant farmworkers and their families as they arrive in the Columbia River Gorge to pick cherries. Often, workers arrive to the region without enough money to support themselves and their families until their first paycheck arrives. The food drive strives to address that need.
One Community Health’s Bob Gobbo, MD, was one of about 20 people who volunteered to help pack food into boxes for distribution. He was impressed by the Columbia Gorge Food Bank’s efforts as they arranged an assembly line so volunteers could pitch in and get the food in the appropriate boxes and organized for distribution. Together, everyone packed about 225 boxes in one evening; the goal is 360 boxes, so another packing event will take place soon.
“It was fun!” Gobbo said. “The food bank arranged the production line, which contained packaged, canned and other non-perishable foods that were requested this year by the families as they are more desirable and useable for them.”
Not only was the fundraiser a record success, the distribution process, organized by the food bank, has changed this year to be more effective as well. Food will be distributed at several events at farmworker communities over the next two weeks.
The nonprofit organization will also be rolling out its migrant farmworker outreach program, connecting with farmworkers and their families in the orchards to provide critical health education and also health screenings, according to Michele Guerrero, RD, OCH’s enabling services manager. The health center will also have special walk-in hours for the workers. Without affecting its high level of service for established patients, One Community Health will provide the migrant farmworker community access to care during their time in the Gorge.
“For over 30 years, One Community Health has made this outreach commitment to migrant farmworkers and their families,” Guerrero said. “These services make a difference in the health of the community and empower the workers not just while they’re here in the Gorge but throughout their lives. It’s meaningful, effective work. From the food we are able to donate to the medical, dental and behavioral health care we offer, it’s all an essential part of our organization’s mission. We all really enjoy working with the farmworker community—it’s a highlight of the year for many One Community Health staff members!”
Volunteers interested in packing the remaining boxes can find out when that event will be held by visiting Columbia Gorge Food Bank’s Facebook page.