Potluck in the Park
My name is Jason Rae and I am a senior at Portland State University. I am majoring in Geology with a minor in Planetary Science. For my Senior Capstone Project, I have chosen to devote time to working with Potluck in the Park in order to provide warm, healthy meals for people suffering from food insecurity in Portland, Oregon.
Homelessness and Food Insecurity within Portland
Homelessness and food insecurity within is a very serious issue and one that has a wide range of implications on the entire City of Portland. According to data provided by the City of Portland, it is estimated that around 3,800 individuals currently sleep on the street, live within shelters, or in temporary housing. 12,000 more individuals live overcrowded and unsafe conditions. These individuals lack many of the necessities that are needed to have productive and safe lives.
This is not a recent phenomenon. The neglecting of homelessness and, in addition, mental illness spans decades. It dates back to the opening of one mental hospital actually. Oregon first opened the doors of Dammasch State Hospital in 1961 with the aim of treating those afflicted with mental illness. The facility was meant to relieve overcrowding at the larger state hospital in Salem. More and more individuals flooded into the asylum, and by the 1980s, the newer hospital had also exceeded capacity. The overcrowding, combined with widespread abuse toward patients, worsened and rather than reform the mental health treatment system, the state simply closed Dammasch in 1995, releasing the patients—ill-equipped to function independently—onto the streets of Portland. Nearly 25 years later, the homeless, many of whom are addicted to drugs, remain on the streets in the same abhorrent conditions. Food insecurity and homelessness are too issue that go hand in hand.
Food insecurity in oregon
Hunger is One of the greatest problems we have, but also the dumbest one...
The solution to all this hunger and all this food waste is simple: give the surplus food to those who need it the most. Fortunately, some companies and houses are already doing this. Many businesses also donate to food rescue agencies, like Potluck in the Park and the Oregon Food Bank, that get food and meals to those who need them. These donations contribute to the more than 50 million pounds of food The Oregon Food Bank collects for distribution around the state. Unfortunately, many companies and houses are unaware of this so thousands of tons of perfectly edible food goes into the garbage can.
With all this hunger in Oregon, who is here to help serve...
For nearly a decade I have infrequently participated in the weekly gatherings of Potluck in the Park. I have always found the experience to be incredibly rewarding. After such a long time working with one organization, I felt that I knew all there is to know about it. However, since being given this project, I have found out new things about Potluck in the Park that have made me appreciate the organization even more. In addition to getting found, the many people who gather at Potluck in the Park have used their time to get to know the others who have gathered to receive a meal. Through this, an interesting internal community forms and people at Potluck in the Park, who are currently struggling from various issues like food insecurity and homelessness, help each other out through various ways such as moral support or suggesting various ideas about how to improve each others lives. I was somewhat aware that this was going on before the project, but after spending time in the Effective Change Agent class, I feel that my ears have become more tuned in to such talk, which I greatly appreciate. I plan to continue my work with Potluck in the Park.