OSU Extension, Oregon Food Bank launch food resource web site

March 10, 2006

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Wherever you live in Oregon – be it in a larger city or smaller town – finding up-to-date information about local food resources will be a lot easier with the introduction of Food for Oregon, an online database just launched by the Oregon State University Extension Service in cooperation with Oregon Food Bank.

Food for Oregon fulfills a recommendation to develop a database to "provide information and to help coordinate community food security efforts across the state," that is part of the Oregon Hunger Relief Task Force's Act to End Hunger.

Community food security means reliable access to nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate food resources for all citizens.

"Connecting Oregonians to local and regional food resources is good for hungry citizens and good for food producers," said Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski. "We can only win the fight against hunger if we all work together – government, universities, business, nonprofits, the faith community and every individual.

"By improving access to high-quality, locally produced foods, increasing Oregonians' self-reliance in providing for their own food needs, and supporting our local food systems, the community food programs database will move us closer to the goal of eliminating hunger in Oregon," he said.

You can find the Web site at: http://foodfororegon.oregonstate.edu.

"The Food for Oregon database will include a broad range of locally available food outlets, including community gardens, farmers' markets, community kitchens and gleaning organizations, faith-based food providers, and other local food producers and processors," said Sally Bowman, OSU Extension family and community development specialist.

The audience for this project is all Oregonians, she added.

The main feature of the Website is a searchable database of non-emergency food resources throughout Oregon, along with many links to other food resource Web sites.

"Oregonians in need of emergency food will find links to those resources on this site," said Bowman. "However, our plan is that Food for Oregon will become the most current and complete collection of community food resources in the state."

To help reach that objective the database features registration and e-mail templates that provide an easy-to-use pathway for food resource providers to add and update database listings.

"In a broader sense, we hope that the communication tools built into the Food for Oregon database will serve as a gateway for citizen involvement in community food policy and volunteer efforts to expand public access to community food resources," said Shawn DeCarlo, Oregon Food Bank agency relations coordinator.

Another important goal of Food for Oregon is to emphasize availability of sustainable community food resources, added Garry Stephenson, OSU Extension small farms program coordinator.

"Some of our best sustainable food resource outlets are farmers' markets and community gardens," Stephenson said. "Listing local producers in the database is an important way that we can support the smaller farm operations around our communities and bolster their ability to continue providing locally grown food products."

According to Bowman, the OSU Extension Service and Oregon Food Bank have partnered on several projects in recent years.

"Working together on the Food for Oregon database project was a natural collaboration since hunger issues in Oregon are addressed by the Extension Service through education and by Oregon Food Bank through advocacy," she said.

Author: Bob Rost
Source: Sally Bowman, Jean Kempe-Ware, Garry Stephenson