Beginning in December of 2011, Newport Avenue Market, based in the small mountain town of Bend, Oregon, started “Food for February,” an annual program dedicated to serving the hungry in Central Oregon by relying on cash donations to purchase food in bulk at wholesale prices. Since the program’s inception, every dollar that has been donated by customers has been matched 100% by the market. Every December, the market invites customers to participate in the fundraiser, asking that they donate any dollar amount they’d like. Upon donation, each customer receives a paper plate to proudly display at the store. In January, the market tallies the total donation amount, and then matches those funds dollar-for-dollar. With all proceeds going towards local food kitchen organization Family Kitchen, Newport Avenue Market works hand in hand with their warehouse, Unified Grocers, to use the funds to selectively order hundreds of fresh foods, at wholesale prices, from Family Kitchen’s wish list. It is not commonly known that February is one of the hardest hitting months for hungry families in Central Oregon. Money is tight after the holidays, donations dwindle and food pantries are depleted. The “Food for February” program originated based off of the need during that time, and takes place during the season of giving in which customers most often have the ability to donate.
“Food for February” has more than doubled in size year after year. Newport Avenue Market is expecting to see this trend continue in 2014, and will match donated funds dollar-for-dollar, up to $25,000! “Food for February” by the numbers: • $35,886.48 has been donated since program inception (over the last three years) • A total of 952 gallons of milk, 4,896 eggs, 300 pounds of quality lunchmeats, 240 pounds of cheese, 200 cases of soup, 50 cases of stew, 50 cases of tuna, and 50 cases of cereal have been donated, among other items. • Last year’s donation alone supplied more than seven months’ worth of ingredients, providing over 30,000 meals for the community members Family Kitchen serves.
Newport Avenue Market has a philosophy that no matter the person's situation, everyone deserves a meal. Observing that the holiday season is a time of giving, especially for the food banks that are flooded with donations, the market wondered, “What happens after the holiday season, when it’s still cold outside and there are still hungry families?” With this thought in mind, “Food for February” was born. Program objectives include: • Raise money donated by Newport Avenue Market customers to feed the hungry in Central Oregon. • Match raised funds dollar-for-dollar, for a total goal of $50,000. • Work with major brands currently carried in store, as well as the market’s warehouse, Unified Grocers, to selectively order hundreds of fresh foods, at wholesale prices, from the organization’s wish list. • Continue to serve as one of the largest food donation programs in the tri-county region.
“Food for February” has doubled in size year-over-year since its inception. In 2011, $1,250 was raised with a match of $1,250, for a total of $2,500. In 2012, $4,025 was raised with a $4,025 match, totaling $8,050. In 2013, an astounding $12,668.24 was donated, with a 100% match, totaling $25,336.48. Last year’s donation alone helped to supply more than seven months’ worth of ingredients, providing over 30,000 meals for the community members Family Kitchen serves. A total of 952 gallons of milk, 4,896 eggs, 300 pounds of quality lunchmeats, 240 pounds of cheese, 200 cases of soup, 50 cases of stew, 50 cases of tuna, and 50 cases of cereal have been donated, among other items. By working with their warehouse and other in-store brands, Newport Avenue Market has been able to stretch the donation dollars, allowing for more food to be purchased in bulk at wholesale prices. With hopes to double the donation amount in 2014, they look forward to raising enough funds to provide over 60,000 meals to hungry families in Central Oregon over the course of 14 months. The program has been so successful, much in part, due to Newport Avenue Market’s loyal and giving customers, who have played an integral role in supporting the program, thus feeding hungry families right in our own neighborhood.
“This community continues to amaze us year after year with their generous giving during a significant time of need. It’s hard to believe that, post-holiday, the month of February is historically one of the hardest hitting months for hungry families in Central Oregon. Last year, the money raised helped to supply over 30,000 meals for our neighbors in Bend. This year we’re looking to shoot for the stars, and double that number to 60,000. We’re pretty confident in our rock star customers that we can meet that goal. It feels good to do good – and as we love to match the raised funds, we hope that our customers see that as an incentive to donate more, and feel good about their donation knowing it is going to someone in need, right in our very own community.” - Lauren G. R. Johnson, Leader of the Pack (vrrrooom!) & COO of Newport Avenue Market
“We are beyond thrilled and thankful to once again benefit from Newport Avenue Market’s “Food for February.” It’s amazing what our small but mighty community has donated to this program in the past, but on top of that throw in Newport Avenue Market’s matched donation – we’re over the moon. With our meal count still hovering around 5,000 per month, the program’s donations will help us extraordinarily during a time of need.” - Donna Burklo, Development & Marketing Director, Family Kitchen