Tillamook County Creamery Association donates new truck to Oregon Food Bank-Tillamook County Services

Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) and the Oregon Food Bank Tillamook County Services (OFB-TCS) have a long-standing partnership. After years of cash and product donations and hundreds of volunteer hours by TCCA employees, leadership at the co-op have been working closely with OFB to find another way to fight hunger in Tillamook County and further address the root causes of hunger in the community. To do this, TCCA recently funded a brand new truck to help OFB distribute food to food pantries and meal sites throughout Tillamook County.  

In a 2015 study, Feeding America reported that Tillamook County has a 13.5 percent food insecurity rate. This means that 3,440 people do not have enough food to provide for an active, healthful lifestyle. Part of what makes food insecurity so difficult to solve is that the underlying causes are often interconnected: poverty, unemployment/under-employment and inconsistent access to enough nutritious food.

In Tillamook County, geographic isolation and a lack of distribution capacity—infrastructure to provide year-round access to healthy food for consumers and retailers—are significant barriers to food security. With only two major grocery stores in the county, both located in Tillamook proper, many residents must travel for miles to access food on a regular basis. These transportation costs can prevent people from consistently accessing nutritious options.

“We truly believe that it is possible to eliminate hunger in Oregon. We are realizing that to reach that goal, we need to work to solve not only food insecurity, but its root causes, which are often very complex,” Sarah Beaubien, senior director of stewardship and farm engagement at TCCA, said. “By funding this truck, we can help fight hunger in our own community by addressing a very specific cause of it: access.”

The new truck funded by TCCA allows the food bank to reduce the number of trips it takes them to make deliveries, increase the quantity of donations they can pick up, improve consistency with their distribution schedule and allow staff and volunteers more time to manage other operations.

All of this while the need in the community persists.

“In the past six months, we have seen an increase on orders that we deliver to our programs,” Levi Johnson, branch operations lead at OFB-TCS, said. “This double to quadruple size increase [in orders] hindered our efficiency as we were having to make more than one trip to some programs to complete their full delivery. This would add 45 minutes to three hours to some of our deliveries, and made operations a challenge at times.

“On top of this, we are starting to see local donation pick-ups increase to where we would, at times, have to add an extra trip to allow us to fully pick-up all the donations. With this new truck we have been able to increase our capacity, reduce the time it takes us to perform our operations, add more to our operations, and operate in a safer manner. [It] came at the perfect time to help us provide the high-quality service that we strive to give all of our programs to ensure no one goes hungry,” Johnson said.

“Now you’re able to do twice the load sizes in half the time,” Doug Kujak, volunteer at Tillamook Food Pantry, said. “This was due to the fact that agencies are ordering so much more and the old truck couldn’t fit the extra amount. It would have required us to make two trips to complete our deliveries, whereas this new truck lets us take on the extra load size in just one trip.”

The new truck funded by TCCA also has a lift gate that is made from strong, but lighter aluminum, and the platform has a bigger surface area that stays level as it lifts/lowers compared to the heavier and smaller gate on the old truck.

“The lift gate is a lot sturdier and much safer to operate,”  Matthew Phillips, lead volunteer at OFB-TCS, said.

“The box is bigger, and the extra floor space makes working much safer and allows us to move easier,” Debbie Lane, branch operations specialist at OFB-TCS, said. “There would be times in our old truck where it felt difficult to move with the lack of floor space that I don’t get with this new truck.”

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