Woman in food pantry

Salvation Army adds drive-through food pantry on Oregon coast

Salvation Army meets needs at new drive-through food pantry 

By Melissa Landon –

The COVID-19 outbreak in Newport, Oregon, has prevented thousands of people from going to work. “Many people in our community had never been in need before, but suddenly found their refrigerators empty amid the pandemic,” said Lt. Nathan Perry, Newport Corps Officer with his wife, Lt. Corrin Perry.

The Newport Corps is following the curbside pickup trend to serve the community through a drive-through food pantry—the Food Pantry of Hope—that began June 22. The Food Pantry of Hope is one of only two Salvation Army food pantries on the Oregon Ccoast, with the next closest pantry about two hours away in Coos Bay.

“People drive up to our building, and we meet them outside,” said Nathan Perry. “We write down basic information—including how many people they have in their family—while standing six feet away. Then we choose or assemble a food box based on the size of the family and load it into the back of the car.”

Food boxes feed an entire family for a week and include not only canned foods but also fresh food and beverages. 

“Our first client came down to the pantry expecting to receive canned goods,” Perry said. “In addition, his family of four got a steak dinner, water bottles, chicken and fresh milk donated from the local grocery store just that morning. When we brought it to him, he was speechless.”

Every day, the Food Pantry of Hope makes a difference in a different way. One day, a couple arrived at the food pantry to pick up a food box on their 63rd wedding anniversary. Perry and another volunteer loaded up the food box into the couple’s car. “A grocery store in town has been donating pies,” Perry said. “So resting on the top of that couple’s food box was a fresh apple pie. The woman started crying and said, ‘Today is my wedding anniversary, and on my wedding day, we served apple pie. I never thought we would have an apple pie today.’”

In just eight weeks, volunteers at the Food Pantry of Hope distributed 1,054 food boxes and 1,390 hygiene kits, assisting approximately 1,659 people. Even though the value of the food boxes has reached $23,626, the total food-related expenses associated with the food pantry have stayed under $100 so far. That’s because the community has come together to help. 

“The Food Pantry of Hope is funded by the community, which is really excellent,” Perry said. “The donors go to grocery stores and buy canned goods and fresh food and donate it to us.” In particular, volunteers from Rotary Club of Newport, The Optimist Club of Yaquina Bay, and the Kiwanis of Lincoln County jumped at the chance to donate money and food to the Food Pantry of Hope.

Interestingly, opening a food bank during the pandemic not only provides another distribution center and generates donations from locals, but also brings more food to the community from the Oregon Food Bank, explained Advisory Board Chair Shannon Heisler, who is a volunteer at the Food Pantry of Hope. “The Oregon Food Bank gives food to Newport Food Share, which then donates food and supplies to local food banks, now including the Food Bank of Hope,” she said.

“The Lord has put the people we are meant to serve right in our paths, and we’re having fun, because we’re serving, and that’s what we’re meant to do,” said Perry. “It’s been wonderful that we can partner with our brothers and sisters from different churches in town.” 

Perry said he hopes to keep the food pantry open indefinitely. 

“We hope that Food Pantry of Hope will become one of the signature programs The Salvation Army operates in our community,” he said.

“The need for food is great here in Lincoln County,” Corrin Perry added, “and we have an opportunity to not only meet a need but also share hope for a brighter tomorrow through the Food Pantry of Hope.”


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