Students see how their food drive helps local families

by: VERN UYETAKE - From left, Thomas McNamara, Allison Griffiths, Jayder Bornia and Evan Schleef get ready weigh a box of West Linn Food Pantry donations from Trillium Creek Primary School.Students at Trillium Creek Primary School got in the spirit of Thanksgiving at the West Linn Food Pantry.

Three fourth-grade classrooms learned about the food pantry’s mission, received a tour of the facilities and helped sort the whopping 968 pounds of food the entire school donated through classroom food drives.

Students collected food from Oct. 29 to Nov. 15. Fourth-graders spearheaded the food drive and visited the pantry as part of their “Celebration of Gratitude” class party on Nov. 16.

Jennifer Loney, co-director of the West Linn Food Pantry, told students: “The food pantry is all run by volunteers and everything you see in this pantry is donated, even the refrigerators.”

Loney explained how the collection and distribution process works to students. She explained that no person is turned away and that no food is wasted. Leftover nonperishable items are given the the West Linn Adult Community Center and Oregon City Food Bank. Students giggled when Loney said that a local man with goats picks up old food on Thursdays.

On a normal day, the pantry operates with 15 to 18 volunteers. Loney encouraged students to visit the pantry with their families on a Thursday.

“You should come down and see this place,” she said. “This goes from looking like a basement of a church to a food pantry.”

According to volunteers, the West Linn Food Pantry donated food to 120 families in the month of November — a higher number than average. On average, the pantry provides once-a-month food boxes to 100 families and approximately 50 people receive perishable food items each week.

by: VERN UYETAKE - Sonya Slyapich, right, and Brandon Weid sort through the food donations at the West Linn Food Pantry.

About the pantry

The West Linn Food Pantry is a private, nonprofit service that provides food boxes for families in the West Linn and Lake Oswego areas. The pantry has served residents since its founding in 2007.

Last year, the West Linn Food Pantry served 1,112 families — 2,259 adults and 1,277 children. Last year, 208 families — 383 adults and 274 children — also received a holiday food box and gifts during the holidays.

The food pantry receives private donations and donations from businesses like Albertsons, Safeway and Market of Choice. During the summer, local gardeners — and the Bolton Primary School garden — deliver fresh produce.

The pantry is located inside the Willamette United Methodist Church at 1683 Willamette Falls Drive in West Linn. The pantry is open Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. Volunteers must be 16 or older or be accompanied by an adult.

by: VERN UYETAKE - Jadyn Dewey helps sort food donations. Trillium Creek Primary donated 968 pounds of food.

Student helpers

Students from Jacquie Banet, David Munoz and Grant Lemke’s classes visited the food pantry last week. Students excitedly weighed their donations and sorted items by expiration date and type of food on a large table.

The teachers said they wanted to increase awareness among students about the growing need among many Oregon and West Linn families, who struggle meeting basic food needs. The teachers introduced students to the term “food insecurity,” and illustrated that many people, adults and children, worry terribly about where their next meal is going to come from.

The goal, the teachers noted, was to have students not only learn about, but participate in the process, so that one day they may be more willing to participate in community service projects and donate time and energy to a worthy cause in their tenure as a citizen of West Linn.

Before each class arrived, a handful of food pantry volunteers hurriedly cleared off table tops and built boxes in anticipation of the flurry of hands and cans soon to come. Organizers said the students asked good questions and were “bright and well centered.”

Volunteer Phil Reese said Trillium Creek’s 968-pound donation “banks right up there” as one of the largest single donations the food pantry has received.

“It’s hard to tell how long the food will last but it’s sure a big help,” he said. “The kids just did such a great job weighing and date checking. And they sure had a great time doing it.”

Reese said the food pantry field trip was unique. Generally, schools host food drives and then parents make the delivery without the hands-on student interaction. The experience, Reese said, was crucial.

“A lot of kids just don’t understand that there are people out there in need, and maybe even some of these kids are in that boat,” he said. “Everyone is not so fortunate, so it’s good for kids to get the whole lecture of what we do and see the pantry and overflow area. You never know, maybe there’s a volunteer in there some day.”

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call 503-915-9446 or visit

by: VERN UYETAKE - McKenna Kelly, left, helps record the weight of food donations with Marla Butler.

How to get help

Families can receive a food box from the West Linn Food Pantry once a month. The box will contain a four- to six-day supply of food. Families can also come in weekly to pick up perishable food items. At no time is anyone turned away.

Personal care products such as toothbrushes, shampoo and soap are also available. Home deliveries can be arranged for seniors, individuals who are homebound or families without transportation. Deliveries are made on the third Thursday of each month. The pantry is closed for the week of Thanksgiving.

by: VERN UYETAKE - Jennifer Looney, co-director of the West Linn Food Pantry,  give students a tour of the facilities.