Oregon FFA, Les Schwab team up, collect 500,000 pounds of food during Drive Away Hunger
As the holiday season descends upon us, most people get to over indulge in creamy mashed potatoes, savory turkey, and delectable desserts. But for many Oregonians, the holidays are more famine than feast as numerous residents struggle to provide food for themselves and their families.
Since 2008 the Oregon Food Bank has seen the demand for emergency food boxes increase by 40%. It is for that reason students across Oregon want to help feed those that need it most. In the spirit of the holiday season, the Oregon FFA (formerly known as the Oregon Future Farmers of America) partnered with Les Schwab Tire Centers, Capital Press and the East Oregonian to help combat hunger. The initial goal of raising 250,000 pounds of food in 2012 seemed daunting but the nearly six thousand FFA members from over one hundred chapters and Les Schwab Tire Centers across Oregon made great strides to help provide the Oregon Food Bank and other local food pantries with much needed food. This year the Drive Away Hunger Event collected over 500,000 pounds of food; double that of the original goal, and enough to provide 384,615 meals. Over the past two years, the event has raised over one million pounds of food for those suffering from food insecurity, enough food to help more than 2,500 Oregon families for more than a month.
The efforts to collect the food were as diverse as the communities themselves. In Sherwood, volunteers travelled door-to- door where businesses greeted them with a pig for the Pass the Pig fundraiser, helping to collect over 5 tons of food. Some chapters focused on working with local farmers, like Jefferson FFA, who partnered with Case Farms, who donated more than 20,000 pounds of winter squash. The Elkton FFA chapter went door-to- door dropping off collection bags and later picked them up to yield nearly 500 pounds of food.
In Eastern Oregon, the FFA chapters of La Grande, Imbler, Elgin, Cove, and Union all partnered with their local Les Schwab and other local businesses to host an Open House event, coupled with collection bags that were inserted in the La Grande Observer. All together they collected 15,138 pounds of food. “The FFA thanks all the farmers, community members and everyone who dropped off food or gave to this effort.” remarked Kevin White, Executive Director of the Oregon FFA Foundation.
In addition to local chapter efforts, people were encouraged to drop food off at any local Les Schwab Store, and collection bags were distributed by the Capital Press and the East Oregonian and also available at many Les Schwab locations. Most the food will be distributed by the Oregon Food Bank network and end up back in the communities in which it was raised.
This is a very special project for the Oregon FFA, where members were given the chance to embody the motto of “…learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live and living to serve. In this hunger initiative, FFA members set an example of service leadership”, said Kevin White. He went on to say “It essential for these young people to have a partner like Les Schwab, as they set an example to our members by serving their communities and neighbors.”
The Oregon FFA is part of the National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, and is a national youth organization of 629,367 student members — all preparing for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of agriculture. There are 7,757 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Oregon FFA has nearly 6,000 members in 103 chapters throughout the state. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
To learn more or to get involved, visit the Oregon FFA Facebook page and the #TIREdofhunger.
To learn more about FFA visit www.oregonffa.com or www.ffa.org.
About Les Schwab Tire Centers
Les Schwab Tire Centers (www.lesschwab.com) is one of the leading independent tire dealers in the United States, with more than 7,000 employees and more than 475 locations throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. The company has been recognized for its business practices through several awards, including a Milestone award from the Oregon Sustainability Board, Oregon Economic and Community Development Department honors, an Environmental Excellence award from the Association of Washington Business, an Integrity Counts award from the Northern Idaho Better Business Bureau, and The Oregonian 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 Top Workplace recognition.