With the pandemic of COVID-19, many of the most vulnerable lost their access to food pantries. This is particularly true for people of color--including low-income Asian elders living in Downtown Portland, Oregon.
This projection is a collaboration among St. Stephen's (Clay Street Table), The Giving Tree, and Asian Health and Services Center--who was seeking resources for food for low-income seniors living in Downtown Portland. Clay Street Table already had a walk-up pantry before the pandemic and worked with the Giving Tree to quickly convert to home deliveries to safeguard these vulnerable residents, especially since the closest Asian grocery stores are at least 30 min away by public transit. These elders could not get to items like tofu, bean curds, fish sauce, and Asian vegetables like bok choy, napa cabbage, etc.
In April (early in the pandemic), Clay Street Table--as a partner of Oregon Food Bank--received a grant to subsidize the first Asian Pantry! We used the $4000 to initiate a culturally-specific Asian food pantry delivery to the elderly. They were so grateful and delighted to receive food which brought them comfort and reminders of their heritage, ingredients with which they are familiar and can easily cook. The grant was also supplemented by the Chinese American Citizens Alliance with its members donating over $1000. On average, with the coordination from Asian Health and Service Center, we are serving 160+ Asian household, 250 elderly residents of Chinese and Korean heritage with 320+ bags of grocery each month, which costs about $6000 to $7000 per month.
Because we are solely dependent on food sourced from the Oregon Food Bank, it is unlikely that any authentic Asian food, especially fruits and vegetables, will ever be available. While OFB is able to provide majority of the items like rice, cooking oil, tuna, etc, we are asking for your help so we can provide Asian-specific items, which will cost approximately $4500 per month. This will allow us to purchase Chinese and Korean ethnic items, much of them produce and fruit. That is only $26.47 per Asian household served per month!
With the resurgence of COVID-19 positive cases in the Portland metro area and the high likelihood of the pandemic continuing well into the fall, we need your help to bring some comfort and joy to the low-income Asian elders. Please help with your monetary donation, share this on your social media platforms, and volunteer your time to pack and deliver the groceries. We will get through this together!