CAPECO Food Bank

CAPECO’s Pendleton food warehouse sits well stocked on May 1. The food bank is looking for additional storage space, specifically refrigerated space, for storing donated food.

The Community Action Program of East Central Oregon needs more storage space to hold an increase in food donations.

The Pendleton-based regional food bank is preparing for an increase in food donations from federal, state and local sources, but they need to borrow some storage capacity from somewhere in the community in order to accept those donations.

“It’s one of those problems that is good to have,” said Tori Colvard, food and nutrition program manager.

Colvard said CAPECO has the ability to pay a rental fee for the space, but they need dry storage, cooler storage and freezer space beyond what they already have at their warehouse near the Pendleton airport.

CAPECO CEO Paula Hall said layoffs spurred by COVID-19 have created significant financial need in Eastern Oregon. Oregon’s congressional delegation has risen to the occasion by helping get more food from the United States Department of Agriculture directed to area food banks; the state of Oregon has directed millions of additional dollars to the Oregon Food Bank and local organizations, such as Farmers Ending Hunger, have pledged to increase their donations.

“As we’re seeing an uptick of need, we’re also seeing an uptick of folks responding to that need,” she said.

That response is expected to increase in the coming weeks, and the current influx is already straining CAPECO’s storage capacity. So the organization is asking for leads on “food-safe” spaces that can handle shipments beyond what the Pendleton warehouse has room to accommodate.

“We just want to have that system in place so that we’re not in a position of having to say no to a donation for the community,” Hall said.

Freezer storage is the top priority, followed by dry storage and refrigerated storage. The space must be able to hold at least 10 pallets (about half a semitruck load) of food. It needs to be a safe place to store food, although CAPECO can help with some measures, such as pest control.

Since CAPECO’s warehouse is in Pendleton, a Pendleton location would be ideal, but Hall said they could also make something in the greater Hermiston area work.

As CAPECO also receives monetary donations to purchase food on their own, Hall said they will prioritize spending that money locally, such as buying produce from area farms and orchards.

If anyone has a space they believe will work, they can call Colvard at 541-278-5693 or email tcolvard@capeco-works.org.

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