All food collected by the Bend Food Project is donated to ‘The Giving Plate’, a food relief organization.
I entered The Giving Plate for the first time to talk with Gary and Debi in my professional role as the Community Partner Liaison for Westside Church. It did not take me long to realize the heart and soul of the two [of] them and the incredible pulse of TGP. The mission of feeding the hungry today, helping solve hunger tomorrow, was one I could embrace whole-heartedly. I was enamored by the stories of the guests and in awe of the compassion in the environment. My volunteerism happened quickly as “food box engineer”[. F]illing boxes of food for the guests was humbling yet rewarding. We take so much for granted in our daily lives and the simplicity of providing a box of food for a family in need rarely passes through our repertoire of things to do today that will make the world a better place. Collecting an extra bag of food over two months at home feeds a family, helps a child to not be hungry when they go to bed. The impact is almost too much to articulate. It isn’t about giving food to needy people, it’s about spreading joy and hope. It’s about helping the working poor survive. It’s about serving those who live in our community, those who serve our food, pump our gas, change our tires, clean our clothes, check our groceries. It’s about the little children that come to get lunch on Saturday, because without our Saturday lunch program they “might” get one maybe two meals on the weekend. The Giving Plate is about dignity and respect of our fellow human beings. You ask why I serve, why I fill that bag, it’s because The Giving Plate offers so much hope to the hopeless! TGP empowers families to do what it takes to sustain their family’s well-being and give them [an] extra hand-up to cover the costs of vital living expenses.
Kim P. Hatfield Executive Director The Giving Plate
Jack walked through the doors of The Giving Plate as our guests often do; head down, shoulders slumped and a heart full of humility. As he stepped up to get registered for a monthly food box tears began streaming down his face, he could hardly talk. Through his tears he said, “I never thought I would be entering the doors of a food bank, I lost my job and just can’t seem to make ends meet, I am so embarrassed.” The Giving Plate volunteers were quick to console and encourage Jack. By the time he walked out with food for a week he was smiling and laughing with the volunteers. He said, “you all gave me hope, thank you!”
In December a first time Giving Plate Guest stopped by to inquire about receiving a food box. Her story is one of despair, heartache and struggle. Colette recently returned to Bend, her hometown, with her five children to escape an abusive relationship. Colette has a strong support system in Central Oregon and knew it would be a better place for her children. Shortly after moving her Sister passed away leaving five children orphaned. Colette quickly stepped in to care for her nieces and nephews on her own. Once we heard her story we set the gears in motion to get her extra support and love during the Christmas season. Colette continues to visit The Giving Plate once a month for her food box. We check in with her and she tries to stay positive, yet the struggles of raising ten children on her own remains constant. She is humble and kind and the one food box she receives a month aids in her strength and determination.
Kevin is 5 years old and has been diagnosed with Lupus. Kevin receives frequent infusions making him very weak and ill. Molly, Kevin’s Mother is a student at Central Oregon Community College (COCC) studying Psychology in addition to auditing a Medical Terminology course so she can understand her son’s doctors in an effort to serve as an advocate for him. If that’s not enough Molly and her children live in a confidential protective program due to domestic violence. She works hard to create a stable home where her children can thrive. Working, attending classes, studying, caring for Kevin as well as her other children requires an incredible amount of stamina and dedication on her part. You would never know these things about Molly when she comes to The Giving Plate to pick up her monthly food box. She is at home here due to our compassionate volunteers who treat her with dignity and respect. Her monthly food box allows Molly to have a little extra money each month to cover her electricity, rent or other vital living expenses.