Deschutes County Commissioners Grant NeighborImpact $2.4 Million for Food Warehouse Construction

Deschutes County Commissioners awarded NeighborImpact $2.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to apply toward the construction of a new food program warehouse. NeighborImpact plans a 10,000 square foot structure. The food program will use the existing warehouse for emergency distribution. Commenting on the project’s significance, Commissioner Phil Chang said, “Many families are struggling to make ends meet. The food bank is a lifeline for those people, and we need to increase its capacity to fill a growing need, not only due to the COVID surge but also because of the general growth of the region and soaring housing costs.”

The project budget stands at $5 million, of which NeighborImpact had secured $1,050,000. Initial support came from a $125,000 matching grant from the Maybelle Clark MacDonald Fund; individuals donated $130,000 in match. Representative Jack Zika contributed $800,000 from his discretionary pool of ARPA funds. To raise the remaining $1,550,000, NeighborImpact will seek additional funds from Jefferson and Crook counties and will launch a capital campaign; Central Oregonians have a history of generous support for NeighborImpact’s projects that meet basic human needs effectively and well.

NeighborImpact hopes to begin construction in the spring. Demand for food has far exceeded current warehouse space. The Food Program began operating in 1985. The existing warehouse was constructed in 1991 at 2,200 square feet and has not been expanded since. Last year, NeighborImpact distributed 4.6 million pounds of food through 55 partner agencies, providing 5.75 million meals to food-insecure Central Oregonians. Of those served, 48% are children; other primary recipients include Veterans, persons with disabilities and seniors. Commissioner Patti Adair said, “I look forward to making a difference for the Food Program, and I believe that the $2.4 million award will be extremely beneficial for the community.”

Commissioner Chang pointed out another benefit: “This is an opportunity for us not just to take care of our neighbors in need but also to realize that many people who use the food bank are part of Central Oregon’s workforce. Supporting this project is an economic development strategy. Businesses’ workers need to be able to afford rent and food; having a viable food bank that helps workers get by supports businesses.”

NeighborImpact appreciates the support of those who have allocated funding to make the new warehouse possible. The agency extends its profound gratitude to Commissioner Tony Debone, who advocated for fully funding the request. Deep appreciation goes to Commissioner Phil Chang, who has been a proponent of this project since its first introduction to the community. Sincere thanks to Commissioner Adair, who used the podium to express her appreciation for NeighborImpact’s work and resilience. Thanks as well to Deschutes County Treasurer and NeighborImpact board member, Greg Munn, who kept the request moving forward. Representative Jack Zika’s leadership gift factored into the County’s confidence moving forward. NeighborImpact also extends lasting gratitude to Maybelle Clark McDonald Fund whose challenge gift prompted donations from many generous individuals.