Breathing room: Idanha Food Bank gets expansion grants

January, 2019 Posted in Community, Food And Drink

By Mary Owen

The Idanha Food Bank got an early Christmas present when granted the funds to add two new 12-foot x 16-foot buildings and a free-standing walk-in refrigerator room.

“The new buildings will allow the food to be housed in one place,” said Debby Ruyle, who was instrumental in getting the grants needed to fund the expansion. “Currently, food items are housed in our fellowship hall, and there is not adequate room. Many items are in totes so they can be moved and stacked due to limited space but are then hard to see what is available. The new space will help clients see what’s available, and will not need to be moved when the fellowship hall is needed for other purposes.”

According to Ruyle, the local Marion/Polk Food Share donated $1,000, the Oregon Food Share funded a $9,000 grant, the Larry & Jeanette Epping Family Foundation donated $10,000, the local civic group the Can-Can Club gave $500, Freres Lumber donated plywood, and Frank Lumber Co. donated lumber for framing the buildings.

“Scott Lunski, owner of Santiam Ice Company in Idanha, has donated metal-coated Styrofoam panels to build a free-standing walk-in refrigerator,” Ruyle said. “We have been blessed with some private donations as well.

“Local residents have been volunteering man-hours to build the structures, including Ron Harris, Terry Bonnett and Keith Munn and others who have helped Steve and Pastor Gregg,” she added. “The new structures would not have been possible without the help and support from those folks.”

Idanha Community Church, home to the food bank for the past six years, helps over 70 families per month, approximately 120 people from the Detroit and Idanha communities. Open every Friday from 10 a.m. to noon, the food bank lets families select the food items they need and delivers food boxes to shut-ins.

Operating out of the old Green Veneer factory, the food bank was started by Bart Swisher with food received from Mehama’s food bank. Steve Kinney helped Swisher with the food bank and made deliveries to families in the area. Two years later, Kinney took over the food bank after Swisher’s health declined. After the Idanha Community Church was gifted to Detroit Community Church in 2015, its fellowship hall became the new home for the food bank, according to food bank records. Both churches are pastored by Gregg Elllison.

“Steve travels to the Marion/Polk Food Share in Salem every Thursday with the assistance of Pastor Gregg Ellison and a few volunteers to load the food and transport it to Idanha,” Ruyle said.

“The Marion/Polk Food Share donated a box truck to our food bank to use to transport the food. Several people from our community show up on Thursdays to help unload the truck with a big thank you of a hot meal prepared by Pastor Gregg’s wife, Reta Ellison.”

As well as food, the food bank hands out hygiene, household and other items when in supply.

Ruyle said as needs arise in the community, the food bank tries to help meet them.

“We have helped secure clothing, coats, shoes and hygiene items for those in need,” she said. “Occasionally, there are children’s toys and coats for children in need. There is nothing better than helping provide children with things most people take for granted. We were able to hand out blankets last winter and plan on doing that again this winter.”

During the holidays, families receive their own turkey and all the trimmings for a special holiday meal, she said.

“The food bank has been a huge success helping our local families,” Ruyle said. “It gives us great joy to see families shopping and to help meet their needs.”

Ruyle said Idanha Food Bank also serves folks living in the woods around Idanha as well. “No one is turned away,” she said.

Ruyle credited seven volunteers with keeping the food bank running smoothly: Steve and Barbara Kinney, Gregg and Reta Ellison, Bob Mahler, and Ed and Bobbi Davenport.

“There are a few locals that come every Thursday evening and help unload the food and get it ready for distribution,” she said. “Others step up as able and when needed.”

Siegmund Landscape Supply stepped up for the holiday needs two years running, donating pallets of food to all Santiam Canyon food banks.

“Their employees have a competition to see which department can bring in the most food, and then they donate the items to the local food banks. It supplies us with items we don’t always have access to, so we truly appreciate Siegmund’s support.”

Pastor Ellison said, “Our main goal is to give credit to the businesses and agencies that provided funding and to the folks that have given their time to help the food bank progress.”

For information on the Idanha Food Bank call Steve Kinney at 503-854-3455.

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