ashland.news
July 21, 2024

50 years after founding, Ashland food bank more essential than ever: ‘We’re no longer an emergency, we’re a necessity’

Amey Broeker, executive director of the Ashland Community Food Bank, thanked the large number of volunteers and supporters present at the 50th anniversary celebration Sunday. Ashland.news photo by Bob Palermini
October 24, 2023

Ashland Emergency Food Bank announces name change to Ashland Community Food Bank

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

After 50 years in the community, Ashland Emergency Food Bank on Monday changed its name to Ashland Community Food Bank in the hope the new name better reflects the organization’s mission.

The nonprofit has also extended its offerings, including adding Saturday service once a month starting in mid-November. After discontinuing the Saturday offering due to COVID-19, Ashland Community Food Bank will start it back up on Saturday, Nov. 18, and will continue to offer it the third Saturday of each month going forward. 

About 250 people attended a celebration Sunday to celebrate its storied past and acknowledge volunteers who have kept it going strong.

The newly renamed Ashland Community Food bank celebrate 50 yours of service to the community with an event for volunteers Sunday at the Ashland Hills Hotel Sunday. Ashland.news photo by Bob Palermini

“We were born out of the intention and generous spirit of our faith-based community,” said Amey Broeker, executive director of the food bank.

Broeker acknowledged those around the room who served the organization — some for five, 10 or even 20-plus years.

“We’re really, really blessed to be 100% community supported,” Broeker said, referencing an anecdote made previously by board President George Kramer.

“And that’s really because of everybody in this room and all people who have been in this room for the last 50 years, and is really the cause for our name change,” she added. “We want people to know they can come to us for service. Some people believe they’re not in an emergency state and therefore they don’t need our services, and that really just isn’t the truth.”

Sally Kirkpatrick, Dale Smith and Ellen Downes (L to R), all volunteers at the Ashland Community Food Bank thanked executive director Amey Broeker for her leadership. Ashland.news photo by Bob Palermini

Broeker said 44% of the community in Ashland doesn’t have the earning potential to actually meet their cost of food, housing, childcare and transportation. Broeker notes that 54% of Talent is also in that position, she said.

The food bank has seen a 140% increase in demand at its door since January.

“It’s been very dramatic,” Broeker said. “Our community has stepped up. We have so many more volunteers than we did at the start of the year, making it an absolutely amazing machine when we served 65 to 70 households a day at the end of month.”

Broeker said the food bank is there for those who need it, with an increase in new volunteers to help.

Part of the program at the Ashland Community Food Bank’s 50 year celebration recognized volunteers who contribute more than 11,000 hours of service annually. Ashland.news photo by Bob Palermini

“We’re an entity that is there for that group of people,” Broeker said. “They can count on us. We’re actually part of people’s budget these days. We’re no longer an emergency, we’re a necessity for them to be able to live in our community and participate in our community and contribute to our community.” 

The nonprofit started with a coalition of churches 50 years ago to support families and individuals who were in a food crisis, according to the organization’s news release announcing their change in name. Broeker acknowledged critical partners to the nonprofit on Sunday, such as Food Angels, the Ashland Food Project, local grocers, generous residents, such funders as the Ashland Community Health Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation, and more than 11,000 hours of volunteer support annually, according to the food bank’s release.

George Kramer, president of the Ashland Community Food Bank board of directors. Ashland.news photo by Bob Palermini

As for the added service day on the third Saturday of the month starting in November, the food bank will offer service from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

“We recognize for working families, it can be difficult to come during our Monday-Friday hours,” Broeker told Ashland.news via email.

Ashland Emergency Food Bank celebrated its 50th year with a new name, Ashland Community Food Bank, Sunday. Ashland.news photo by Bob Palermini

Also part of the announcement was an update to the nonprofit’s mission statement:

“In solidarity with our community, the Ashland Community Food Bank sustainably provides food at no cost to all those in need living in Ashland and Talent, while increasing awareness of food insecurity. We serve all people with dignity.”

For the past half-century, despite changes, the food bank describes itself as an organization whose mission has remained constant: To provide food, free of charge, to friends, family, and neighbors in greater Ashland and Talent. 

“It’s critical to serve in a way that is low-barrier, conveying kindness, respect, and dignity to those in need,” Broeker said in a news release.

Email Ashland.news staff reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

Oct. 25: Corrected spelling of Emily Broeker’s name in a photo caption.

Nov. 4: Added video.

In this 7-minute video, Jim Falkenstein talks about the Ashland Community Food Bank name change, how its food assistance program works, including its volunteer staffing, and how you can help. Video by Jim Falkenstein
Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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