Over a hundred people turned out at the Portland State Park Blocks for the monthly Harvest Share on Monday, June 12. The Harvest Share is organized by the Committee for Improving Student Food Security in partnership with the Oregon Food Bank.
Various fresh produce such as carrots, yams and potatoes were given out in bundles to students, staff, and community members. CISFS also posts recipes on its website so students and community members can easily find ways to cook the specific food items they receive at harvest share.
“Our committee started back in 2014, when we surveyed the entire student body, and we have a really great rate of return,” said Jessica Cole, outgoing chair of CISFS. “It showed that 59 percent of our students had some form of food insecurity during that academic year, so that could be their money ran out and they didn’t have enough money to buy food until their next paycheck, they weren’t able to get the kind of food that they wanted, or they went without food because of lack of resources. And it showed that students were skipping entire days of eating, things like that. And it was just a big eye opener.”
According to Cole, the Harvest Share event serves an average of around 350 individual households and an average of around 1,250 individuals per outreach, which occurs every second Monday of the month all year long.
The Learning Garden laboratory, which works with the Student Sustainability Center handed out a variety of free plants, such as herbs, as a part of a senior capstone class.
“All year we’ve cultivated these plants from seed to start and we bundled these up for the harvest share, for the community,” said student Danielle Moyer. “We do starts. We do seeds. We also give out her bundles and sort of just answer any questions that people have. It’s just teaching about food security and food development and sustainability.”
In addition to the live plants, the SSC handed out packets of seeds for families to grow food at home. The Student Health and Counseling and Financial Welfare centers were also present.
“Our grand vision is to join with the student sustainability center and form a campus garden so that faculty and staff can participate if they want to and be able to grow here,” Cole said. “You know we have a lot of people in residence where access to a garden isn’t always possible, so that’s hopefully down the road in the near future.”
CISFS also has SNAP outreach specialists on campus twice a week for two hours to help students determine their eligibility.
Any leftover food is donated to the student food pantry on campus.