Community-Driven Partnership Addresses Hunger in Central Oregon


(Family Kitchen Check Presentation L to R Helena Schweigert, Donna Burklo, Jennyfer Prescott, Kathy Caward, Heidi Simila, Kelly Hardman, TC Bennett | Photo courtesy of Newport Market)

In 2011, Newport Avenue Market approached Family Kitchen with a humble idea — a mission to support Central Oregon community members grappling with hunger during the often-overlooked month of February. This initiative was born out of an understanding of the unique challenges individuals face during this time — enduring financial strains from the holiday season, decreased donations, and depleted food pantries.

This grassroots endeavor, known as Food For February, has evolved into a community-driven movement, addressing the specific hurdles people of all ages face in February and offering vital support to those in need.

Over the past 13 years, shoppers and Newport Avenue Market and Oliver Lemon’s, have joined forces, collectively raising an impressive $559,750 for those who are hungry in Central Oregon. Notably, this effort includes $248,863 in matching funds generously provided by the markets.

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, the specter of hunger loomed larger in Oregon, impacting one in 5 individuals across diverse communities. Before the pandemic, one in 11 Oregonians grappled with food insecurity, underscoring the urgency of collaborative efforts. Newport Avenue Market emerged as Family Kitchen’s largest donor and a vital ally in the battle against hunger in Central Oregon.

The partnership has become an invaluable asset to Family Kitchen. Beyond financial contributions, Newport Avenue Market’s commitment goes further. Since 2014, shopper donations and market support have constituted a significant 12% of total giving. The enduring success of this partnership lies in a simple yet effective system — Family Kitchen provides a shopping list, and Newport Avenue Market procures the items, ready for weekly pickup by a Family Kitchen volunteer.

This collaboration’s efficiency is evident in the seamless coordination of efforts. Monthly spreadsheets meticulously account for donations, creating a well-oiled machine that efficiently channels support to those who need it most. Newport Avenue Market amplifies Family Kitchen’s impact, reaching a broader audience of donors.

For Family Kitchen, Newport Avenue Market’s contribution extends beyond monetary value.

“The partnership allows us to source high-quality ingredients from Newport Avenue Market’s suppliers, resulting in meals that truly make a difference,” said Donna Burklo, executive director of Family Kitchen. “This offering of dignity and respect forms the cornerstone of our relationship with Newport Avenue Market and, together, with our diners.”

In today’s context, the donation represents ingredients and supplies for nearly 300,000 meals. This figure encapsulates not just a numerical value but the tangible impact of a partnership that strives to address hunger with compassion, efficiency, and a shared commitment to the well-being of the Central Oregon community.

About Rudy’s Market Inc.:
Since opening its flagship grocery store in 1976, Rudy’s Markets have been the No. 1 choice of foodies in Central Oregon. Today, Rudy’s Markets Inc. operates three locally founded, 100% employee-owned specialty grocery stores in Central Oregon: Newport Avenue Market in Bend, and Oliver Lemon’s in Sisters and Terrebonne. Rudy’s Markets offers shoppers both mainstream and hard-to-find food items, kitchenware, and unusual gifts. Its stores support local producers and offer an expansive selection of high-quality, in-demand food and beverage items, including over 600 varieties of craft beer.

About Family Kitchen:
Guided by the belief that nobody should be hungry, Family Kitchen has been providing meals to anyone in need since 1986. Family Kitchen serves three dinners and five lunches each week in Bend, and one dinner weekly in Sisters, averaging 13,000 meals per month served by over 350 volunteers. Our diners are treated with respect and are asked nothing but to leave with a full stomach. Family Kitchen operates as a separate entity sponsored by Trinity Episcopal Church (EIN 93-0427371).

About Sisters Kiwanis Food Bank:
In its three-decade history, Sisters Kiwanis has been involved in the development and support of many community organizations, including Scouts, Campfire, Little League, organized soccer, Habitat for Humanity, and Sisters Organization for Activities and Recreation to name just a few. In addition, Kiwanis volunteers maintain and staff the community food bank, which provides emergency food boxes for less fortunate citizens in the area. Food Bank Open Thursdays, 9am-2pm 328 W. Main Street, Sisters, OR 97759.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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