It started with having a lot of extra time and energy and nowhere to use it. Being out of work, stuck at home, feeling the need to help those struggling with food insecurity, one Portland resident wanted to help her community.
An idea was born a couple of months ago and Harvey Roberts wanted to make it come to fruition. The small food pantry now in the parking strip in front of her house just a block and a half north of Fremont Street at 3617 NE 7th Ave was transformed from more than just a daydream into a real lifesaver for nearby neighbors and houseless residents.
Harvey was living in Columbus, Ohio, and wanted to be part of a larger LGBTQ community. She identifies as queer and as she said, “There were only 7 queers in Columbus and I had dated all of them.” She is also a social worker by trade and wanted to move to a city that offered more social services.
Enter Portland, Oregon.
Portland was a perfect fit for Harvey and she got connected quickly. She has only been here 5 years but has been able to work with several grassroots organizations providing mutual aid through yard sales and other fundraisers with money going to the Black community members.
Her work experience has been with the houseless and survivors of domestic violence so she has experience with those that are vulnerable and needing assistance and services.
After purchasing a reasonably priced pantry from a neighbor, Harvey filled up the pantry with food and toiletries and placed it in the parking strip in front of her home. She added hand sanitizer, a mini-fridge, and a box with grocery bags for ease of carrying away food and supplies. A friend of hers was working with PDX Free Fridge and linked Harvey up with the organization. They listed her pantry on their food pantry map and also, at no cost to her, built a structure to house the pantry to keep it weather-resistant this winter. It has been a great partnership.
Harvey has met a lot of the people that access the pantry. Houseless residents, seniors needing additional food, neighbors with large families that need to supplement their meals, and those needing toiletries that the SNAP funds don’t cover. It is heartwarming to see how many she has helped but sad to see how many need help.
How can others help out? What’s the best way to give? What’s most needed?
It’s simple. When going to the store, buy extra of what you already are purchasing or buy additional items the pantry could use. Next, drop your food or toiletry donations by the pantry or leave them on the porch if the pantry is full. Harvey restocks and organizes the pantry daily to make sure there are a variety of items available.
The best items to donate are soups, tuna or other canned food with PULL TOP lids, beef jerky, applesauce, peanut butter, sardines, crackers, bread, produce, and other items that don’t need to be cooked for very long. She suggests not donating dry beans or rice. It is nice to have access to foods you want to eat not just the same items over and over again.
Toiletries are also in high demand. Toilet paper, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss, menstrual products, and soap are needed.
Be mindful and intentional and donate what you would like to eat or use. Monetary donations are also accepted. See below for payment app account information and also contact information or stop by and say hi to Harvey if you have more questions or need suggestions for donations.
So let’s come together, give what you can and take what you need. We’ll all be better because of it.
- Harvey Roberts
- 3617 NE 7th Ave
- Cash App $payharveymoney
- Venmo App @harveymoney
- (Please type PANTRY in the memo line of Cash or Venmo donation)