Portland’s hungry and homeless will now have access to free lunches on Saturday and Sunday, served by Portland Rescue Mission and funded by The Walmart Foundation as part of its nationwide hunger relief program.
For years the Mission has served a hot, nutritious breakfast and dinner, seven days a week, year-round, to anyone who needed a meal – up to 240,000 meals per year. “Several social service groups serve weekday lunches, so we’ve always focused on early morning and evening meals,” says Eric Bauer, Portland Rescue Mission executive director. “But on weekends, most of our guests have to skip a mid-day meal. Thanks to the Walmart gift, we’ll offer an indoor lunch option and open more space in our Burnside Shelter during weekend day hours.”
Earlier this year, Walmart provided funds to purchase a refrigerated truck for Portland Rescue Mission. “We prepare and serve meals in three locations,” Bauer explains. “The gift of this truck from Walmart allows us to safely and efficiently transport purchased and donated food from site to site.” Walmart employees in Oregon also voted to award Portland Rescue Mission a special $10,000 grant this year in its Associates Choice Program.
Walmart’s “Fighting Hunger Together” program includes plans to donate more than 1.1 billion pounds of food valued at $1.75 billion, plus grants totaling $250 million to support hunger relief efforts by non-profit organizations like Portland Rescue Mission nationwide. Walmart already has contributed more than $5 million of food in Portland alone.*
Portland Rescue Mission reports an increase of 14% in daily meal demand since the recession began in 2008, but with an alarming 21% increase in the last three months. The Mission is also the city’s largest provider of emergency shelter and is open 24 hours/day with safe, clean restrooms for men and women, mail service, clothing, blankets and hygiene items, and referral services. It also offers a free residential addiction recovery program, including counseling, continuing education and job training.
* “From Shelf to Table: An Analysis of Walmart’s Impact on Hunger in America,” July 18, 2011