“Now we’re just working on surviving”

Rural food pantries may be located in small towns, but most serve much larger areas.

Dexter Food Pantry is one of 20 rural pantries that partner with FOOD for Lane County to distribute food. The pantry serves people living in Dexter, but also in Pleasant Hill, Jasper and Fall Creek. The pantry is only open twice a month for a few hours, but those few hours mean the difference between eating and not eating for many of the people it serves. People like John.

John’s whole family was hit hard by the recession. John, his wife, their grown children and grandchildren are all feeling the effects – from mounting medical bills to home foreclosures to bankruptcy. There are now seven mouths to feed under one roof.

“Once you get down that far it’s hard to get back up,” said John.

Oregon’s economy is improving, but that economic growth has passed many Oregonians by. Many of the people FOOD for Lane County serves have jobs but still don’t make enough to pay their bills. When money is tight, food is often the first thing people cut back on.

“I used to be pretty well off financially,” said John. “When I was making a good income, life was a lot easier. But because of a series of accidents and health problems, I’m not able to do what I used to do as far as work. All the hardships we’ve faced — that occupies a lot of your time. Now we’re just working on surviving.”

Today John is a regular at the Dexter Food Pantry.

“We really depend on it,” said John. “It makes the difference between a decent meal and not.”

by Denise Wendt