New food assistance programs are seeded in the Columbia River Gorge
December 3, 2018 – About 300 people officially call Rufus, Oregon home. Located at the base of the John Day Dam in the Columbia River Gorge, jobs are scarce in Rufus, and the closest full service grocery store is 27 miles away.
“For years there was only one food pantry in all of Sherman County, and it was only open one day a month,” says Sharon Thornberry, rural communities liaison for Oregon Food Bank and the regional Columbia Gorge Food Bank. “When I approached the Rufus city council with a plan for a pantry, they immediately embraced the idea and ran with it.”
Like us, the community believes that hunger doesn’t belong in rural Oregon either.
But the pantry almost didn’t open on time. Destructive wildfires that spread through Wasco and Sherman counties last summer forced many to temporarily evacuate, and parts of the town lost power.
The new pantry is now open two days a month and offers fresh produce and pantry staples such as rice, cooking oil and canned tomatoes.
“The community just loves it. They get here early to visit,” says Carol, who is also one of the pantry’s coordinators. “My goal is to make sure people have a little extra. I know what it’s like to live on a limited income.”
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Columbia Gorge Food Bank, a transitional program of Oregon Food Bank, is a regional food bank supporting hunger relief partners in Wasco, Hood River, and Sherman counties.