People who have trouble getting to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank — the elderly, handicapped or those without cars — may now call for home delivery.
The new program, which started March 1, uses mostly volunteers to deliver a free monthly food box that provides two or three days' worth of meals.
With only six home-delivery customers so far, the Food Bank is asking residents of Ashland and Talent to call in with suggestions of people who could use the service, says food bank Director Pam Marsh.
To enroll in the Ashland Emergency Food Bank's home-delivery program, call Director Pam Marsh at 541-488-9544.
"We deliver it right away when someone calls and tells us they're stuck and can't get in here," says Marsh.
Food bank customers usually shop the shelves in person, choosing what they like and what suits their nutritional needs. For home-delivery folks, the food bank will strive to give the same type of service.
"We hope to have the same volunteer drive out to those same customers and get to know their tastes and needs," says Marsh.
Some home-bound customers may be on oxygen, just out of surgery, unable to carry a food box or too far from a bus stop, says volunteer Pat O'Scannell.
Many clients get lunch or dinner from Food and Friends and may just need snacks and breakfast from the food bank, so, says Marsh, that's what volunteers put in the box.
A box being carried out for delivery Friday contained milk, eggs, pasta, oil, bread, peanut butter, fresh muffins, canned soup and a bag with all the ingredients to cook tuna casserole, a popular item.
"Customers are extremely grateful," says Marsh. "Most people are either not aware of our service or can't access it. We know people often have special needs and we try to meet them."
The food bank gets 20,000 pounds of food monthly from the Ashland Food Project, says Marsh.
"We get wonderful food from a community that's compassionate and generous," says Marsh. "The donations are of high quality, which is fantastic."
The food bank served 510 families in March 2013. That number increased to 579 this past March, showing that "the demand continues to accelerate," she says.
"Much of this is from the cut in food stamps. The economy hasn't recovered for those on the bottom of the economy," she says.
"We're in a region that's heavy into the service economy, so people need extra help on a regular basis. Our once-a-month food boxes are a gap-closer, but customers need food stamps and at least a part-time job to make it.
"We're a piece of the puzzle, but an important piece."
To enroll in delivery, local residents may call Pam Marsh at 541-488-9544.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at email@example.com.