Food pantry finds new home
The Hunger Fighters Oregon (HFO) food pantry, formerly housed at Lakeridge Middle School, has found a new home after being displaced due to the bond-funded rebuild of the school.
HFO is a nonprofit that was established in the fall of 2016 by Lake Oswego High School student Michael Murray. He was only 15 at the time, and formed the organization with the support of local leaders, educators and the Lake Oswego Rotary Club. Murray, now a senior in high school, serves as the executive director of HFO.
The pantry aids people without reliable access to sufficient nutritious food, distributing basic food and hygiene items to families and individuals in Lake Oswego. It is open every other Saturday from 1-3 p.m. As of 2018-19, 520 of students in the district are eligible for free or reduced lunch — 7.4% of the district.
In 2018, HFO served 89 individuals including 42 children and infants.
The pantry had to find a new home because space for HFO was not included in the remodel of Lakeridge Middle School; the district cited concerns about the cost of housing the large food pantry in the brand new building.
Former superintendent Michael Musick worked with HFO to come up with a solution befitting of both parties, ultimately deciding to move the pantry to the garage of a building known as the Green House at 2301 Hazel Road, adjacent to Lake Oswego High School.
"There will be no missing any food schedules," said Musick at a March school board meeting. "The assurance is that we will have no slippage in service. We will make sure of that, working with the Hunger Fighters."
Musick said that HFO is important to the district, and officials hope to help them succeed. "We're always going to have the program," he said. "That is the goal."
Linda Mathes, the director of food pantry services, said she appreciated the district's support in the transition. "I can't thank former superintendent Musick, school board chair Bob Barman and the board members enough for their support of the pantry and pushing to find a new pantry location," Mathes said.
On June 24 and 25, HFO volunteers assembled to move the pantry to its new home. The pantry will reopen June 29. Mathes said that it's important that the pantry is available to Lake Oswego citizens despite construction throughout the summer. "It means everything to stay open on a continuous basis," she said. "Our clients really do rely on the pantry which confirms there is a need for food in our community."
Mathes said the pantry's new site has some advantages. "We are looking forward to having independent access to the pantry which enables us to work at the pantry any day and time that meets our needs," she said. "Also, we can be more flexible in the days and hours we might want to offer food to the clients."
The pantry is located directly east of the campus of LOHS, which Mathes said a mixed blessing. "One drawback is that we are no longer on a major street which limits our visibility to promote the pantry and also allow easy access," she said. "The positive is that the pantry will be tucked back onto a quiet, beautiful setting with a huge front yard. This setting helps promote privacy for our clients, which hopefully will make them more comfortable going to the pantry."
The pantry will open June 29 at 2301 Hazel Road. There are two ways to get on Hazel Road: through the main entrance into Lake Oswego High School off of Country Club Road, or off of Goodall Road. Signs will guide you to the Green House Garage once you get on Hazel Road.
Learn more at www.hungerfightersoregon.com.
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