Thursday, March 19, 2009

A food bank profile: Sparrow Serivces in Lake Oswgo, Oregon

A profile on a food bank caught our eye this morning. The Oregon newspaper Lake Oswego Review profiled Sparrow Services which is based out of Hope Community Church.

The story echoed what we are hearing from many food bank leaders, that there is a new face of hunger in America due to the recession. People who were once well off now have to receive donations to feed themselves, some do it in secret.

Reporter for the Lake Oswego Review Cliff Newell, interviewed Sparrow Services leader Keith Dickerson for the story.

Certainly, Sparrow Services is doing great work by feeding the hungry. Yet perhaps what is most unique about it is who these hungry people are.

“We don’t get many transients any more,” Keith Dickerson said, “where we just give them some popup cans of Vienna sausage or some chili.”

Instead, Sparrow Services receives people who live in Lake Oswego. Not down-and-outers, but people who not long ago were well off and who often still live in fine homes. But in these times they are going hungry.

“There’s a big demand in Lake Oswego,” Keith Dickerson said. “I’ve pastored in Illinois, Minnesota, and Georgia, and our food ministry in Lake Oswego is different from anywhere else. Hungry people here are in the stealth mode. They want to be anonymous, and we often find out about them from a neighbor or co-worker.

“Sometimes people who need food the worse are the last ones to let you know. They’re meek and quiet and appreciative. They come in softly and leave gratefully. They are people in great need.

“Approaching them is an art, it’s a different dance. You can’t do it brazenly but quietly. The art is giving them the permission to take what the community has for them.

“Some live in nice homes, but they’re tax assessment poor. Sometimes they short themselves on things they need.

“These are people now having to say to themselves ‘I could go hungry.’ That’s been an awakening for us.”

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