Friday, March 6, 2009

Would you rather hear chickens or hungry peoples' stomachs?

One of the worst, least-justified phony excuses to continue barring urban chickens is noise.

In a city split by active train tracks, that has allowed a helicopter school to practice right in the city, that allows any number of dogs, roaring motorcycles, and constant sirens, there is simply no reasonable way to compare those aural assaults with the barely-audible sounds of chickens.

And then there's this report from Marion-Polk Food Share:
Number of Families in Need Rises Further into Record Territory

Another quarter has passed, and halfway through our fiscal year, need has climbed yet higher. Currently, an average of 6,294 families a month are seeking the aid of food boxes.

That average is up more than 300 families a month from last quarter’s all-time record levels, and means that there are now 682 more hungry families per month than last year at this same time.

Need is up most sharply in rural Marion and Polk counties, where it is 20.2% higher than at this time last year. Salem-Keizer’s increase stands at 5%, but that number, too, may be about to go higher.

Never-before-helped families are latest sign of troubled economic times

During January, alone, 562 never-before-helped Salem-Keizer families received food boxes. That number is significant because it is the most new families ever recorded in a single month, and because client service records go back to the early 1990’s.

While exact numbers are not currently available for rural areas, representatives from rural Marion and Polk counties charities report seeing many new families as well.

MPFS is buying more food than ever before

In recent years, our largest single source of food has been product donations from the local food industry. These donations have been comprised of various items companies would classify as “waste” and, indeed, before food banks much of this food was discarded in landfills.

More recently, as economic conditions have tightened, businesses—quite understandably—have had to become more efficient in order to stay afloat. That has meant fewer food donations to help struggling families.

In response, like never before, MPFS has made massive food purchases: seven entire semi-truck loads of food in the past eight weeks.

Purchases were made strategically. Six of the seven semi-loads were acquired locally, including three loads of canned vegetables from Norpac and two loads of canned pears from Truitt Bros.

Buying from local companies means we keep people in our community working and, if people are working, they are less likely to have to need the aid of a food box. Additionally, according to Ray Burstedt, President of SEDCOR (Salem Economic Development Corp.), every dollar spent on local salaries cycles back into the local economy at least three times. That helps our community weather these trying times.

Purchases only possible due to generous donors

The combined price tag for the seven semi-loads of food mentioned above was just short of $114,000, but the result of those purchases was 294,000 pounds of much-needed, nutritious food.

“We could not have done this without the help of the community,” said MPFS President Ron Hays. “It was the generosity of local individuals throughout the holidays that got us this food.”

“We also are grateful to Norpac and Truitt Bros., who gave us very good deals on the products we purchased,” said Hays. “There is nothing that gives me hope in these times like the generosity I see in this community.”

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