OSU Extension joins forces with Oregon Food Bank

August 31, 2004

PORTLAND - The Oregon State University Extension Service and Oregon Food Bank have joined forces in a new, stronger partnership to put more nutrition education on the front lines in Oregon's battle against hunger.

In four of the past five years, Oregon has had the highest rate of hunger of all 50 states. To address this problem more effectively, Anne Hoisington, OSU Extension nutrition educator in Multnomah County, recently relocated to an office at the Oregon Food Bank's Portland headquarters to work directly with Food Bank personnel in delivering nutrition education information along with food distributed to Oregonians vulnerable to hunger.

"By cooperating more closely on a day-to-day basis, the Oregon Food Bank and the OSU Extension Service can both do a better job of serving the needs of Oregon's hungry families," said Hoisington. "Both Extension and Oregon Food Bank share the goal to empower people to improve their health and life by combining nutrition education with access to nutritious foods."

The Oregon Food Bank, a not-for-profit organization, collects and distributes food to a network of 832 hunger-relief agencies throughout the state. Oregon Food Bank also conducts public education programs, including nutrition education, aimed at increasing the ability of citizens to purchase and prepare their own food.

"Timing for this partnership is very serendipitous", said Kim Thomas, Oregon Food Bank director of advocacy and agency relations. "You have a lot of people concerned about health issues, obesity issues and nutrition right now. That's starting to filter down to the volunteers who run the local emergency food distribution agencies; a lot of people are coming in with health issues, diet issues."

As an OSU Extension educator, Hoisington's priorities are to deliver nutrition education geared to the everyday needs of Oregonians and to help low-income families learn how to access food assistance resources provided by the state and federal governments.

Hoisington said a key benefit of her work with Oregon Food Bank is that now her efforts to deliver nutrition education reach into every corner of the state.

The partnership offers great potential to reach more people, Thomas agrees. "Hoisington has created very-easy-to-use nutrition education kits designed specifically for food bank clients that we can funnel through our network of volunteers at local food banks and food pantries that give some really valuable information to people who might not normally get it," Thomas explained.

"The more we can do to broaden the nutrition knowledge of volunteers working in the pantries, the more that information will filter through to people coming in about making healthy food choices."

In addition to developing nutrition education materials for Food Bank volunteer workers and clients, Hoisington also works to improve contacts between local hunger relief workers and Extension nutrition educators in counties throughout the state, Thomas added.

"Creating awareness of local nutrition education resources is very important," said Hoisington. "Community food pantries are ideal distribution points for nutrition education information, but volunteer staff members are sometimes unaware of the education resources available at county Extension offices."

Although the Oregon Food Bank has worked with the OSU Extension Service at various times on many local nutrition education efforts, the new arrangement has forged a stronger and more effective connection between the two organizations, said Thomas.

"Having Anne Hoisington work directly with us at our Portland facility has allowed the Oregon Food Bank to build a much more comprehensive and strategic partnership with the OSU Extension Service," she said.

Author: Bob Rost
Source: Anne Hoisington, Kim Thomas