“Thank you for the wonderful food box. I want you to know that Jenny, my 15 year old, cried when she helped put everything away. She is the cook in the family and was telling me how she could use different ideas to make dinner.”

For years, Southtowne Rotary has delivered food boxes twice a month to local families in need. With the COVID-19 crisis, the need has multiplied. Southtowne, under the leadership of Camille Ronzio, coordinated our effort to deliver upwards of sixty boxes to desperate local families – every week. Each box feeds a family of four for 4-5 days and includes basics such as bread, cereal, peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce, soups, canned fruit and vegetables, and much more. Some boxes are especially designed for Hispanic families. Each weighs 30-35 lbs.

Every week, Southtowne contributes over 72 volunteer hours; we shop, pick-up food, box it, telephone families, and deliver the boxes. And then we do it again. To utilize abundant foods, we engage our partners Food for Lane County and the Eugene Mission. We’ve leveraged our food budget to feed more people. We also received two grants from District 5110 – one for $500 and another for $4000. Camille brainstormed with Head Start of Lane County, Bethel School District, and Downtown Languages, for ways to make this happen safely during the pandemic. We employ a protocol of distancing, wearing gloves and face masks, and dividing tasks so few people are in the same place at the same time. We even have a parking lot attendant (thanks Jantzen) to space the delivery drivers.

The Bethel School District lets us use their gymnasium to put boxes together and to store any non-perishable food and supplies. The Fairfield Elementary staff help to box food, unload vehicles, and wheel food boxes out to the car of the Rotarian who is delivering the box.

Southtowne member Patric Miller choked up as he reported that “some of the families I delivered boxes to had not eaten in three days!” He created a GoFundMe  to help support the effort so everyone can help.