By: STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
There’s always a need for the services of NeighborImpact in Central Oregon, but during the pandemic, that need has magnified.
“We have increased our distribution at the food bank alone has more than doubled from 40,000 pounds of food a week to 90,000 pounds of food a week during the pandemic,” said Rachel Haakenson, director of marketing and communications at NeighborImpact.
In fact, Haakenson says at the beginning of the pandemic, 40% of food bank clients were first time users.
NeighborImpact of one of three nonprofits chosen for Central Oregon Daily’s “Redirect the Check” campaign. The Initiative urges Central Oregonians to donate all or some of their stimulus check.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the community has donated more than $23,000. And with a $10,000 match from TDS, Central Oregon Daily’s parent company, the effort will near $40,000 by the end of the week.
“NeighborImpact’s mission is to serve people and to strengthen communities here in the Tri-counties and at the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs,” Haakenson said. “We do that with a variety of programs that serve people at a variety of economic abilities.”
Other NeighborImpact programs include housing, early childhood education, money management and energy assistance.
“Our energy assistance program can help pay your home’s energy bills, our weatherization program can help improve the energy efficiency in your home to decrease your energy bills,” Haakenson said. “We also have rent assistance so we can help those who are struggling to pay their rent.”
“Redirect the Check” donations will help bolster NeighborImpact’s capacity to feed the community.
“We expect to use those funds to help us expand the food bank, which is definitely a need for us at the food bank here,” she said. “Where even before the pandemic when we were distributing half of the food that we are now, we were already distributing and processing more food per square foot than any other food program in the state.”