Each week, Elmo’s, the dining commons located in the Student Union, donates extra food to less fortunate people without seeking any recognition. The process begins when Elmo’s donates to the Ashland Food Angels, who then distribute the food to various organizations around the Rogue Valley. Many communities in the area, including Medford, Talent, and especially Ashland benefit from the generosity of the individuals working for Elmo’s as well as the Ashland Food Angels on a daily basis.
The Ashland Food Angels is an organization that was founded by Pamela Joy in 1995, and has since been seeking to help locals in need. In an interview with Pamela, she describes what the Ashland Food Angels, or AFAngels, do for the community. “Seven days a week we collect food, clothing, and household articles, sort them and get them to organizations that give them to those in need in this area.”
Elmo’s has teamed up with the AFAngels to become involved in the needs of Ashland residents. According to Pamela, workers of Elmo’s donate to help those in need as well as see that unused food was not wasted. “Elmo’s, through the help of Tamra and Dara(two women affiliated with Elmo’s), donate sandwiches, salads and other food twice weekly. This has been a blessing for the groups that received this food.”
On the next level, the AFAngels distribute to several organizations around the valley, including Uncle Food’s Diner, Head Start, Gospel Mission, Northwest Seasonal Workers, Jackson County Fuel Committee, and the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.
Pam Marsh, Executive Director of the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, explains how frequently the Ashland Food Angels, as well as others around the community, donate to the Food Bank. “The Food Angels deliver food to the Food Bank nearly every day. We also receive donations from the general community whenever our doors are open. Last year we received about 350,000 pounds of food that we shared with local families.” The Food Bank allows people to come and shop, serving between five and six hundred households each month. Customers of the food bank do not need to be homeless to seek aid from the donations. “Our customers span the community and include students, seniors, the working poor, families, disabled and homeless. For 42 years our mission is to ensure that no one in our community goes hungry.”
Organizations like the Ashland Food Angels and the Ashland Emergency Food Bank rely entirely upon donations, like the ones made each week by Elmo’s.
Tamra Taylor, Catering and Retail Director for Elmo’s, explained what it means to her to have the opportunity to be involved through donating to the Ashland Food Angels. “It is very satisfying. We have food that is over ordered at times and we are not having to throw it away, it is going to a good cause.” While businesses like Elmo’s are contributing consistently. these local organizations could use more donations, as well as volunteers, in order to continue the work that they do to assist those in need.
To volunteer at the AFAngels, visit ashlandfoodangels.org and fill out a brief form. Those looking to help out at the Ashland Emergency Food Bank, should call 541-488-9544. The Ashland Emergency Food Bank is open Monday through Friday as well as the first Saturday of each month from 9:30 to 12:30p.m. and the fourth Wednesday of each month from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. They are located at 560 Clover Lane, and all that is needed to receive help is proof of current residency (homeless people are also welcome), no other paperwork required.