The ABC’s of Food Pantry Donations and Harvey Roberts Pantry Story

Food pantry at 3617 NE 7th Avenue organized by Harvey Roberts.
Photo courtesy PDX Free Fridge.

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
  • harveyjeanroberts88@gmail.com
  • Cash App $payharveymoney
  • Venmo App @harveymoney
  • (Please type PANTRY in the memo line of Cash or Venmo donation)

Consider Donating Money to Knott Street Boxing Club

By Ruben Bansie

Knott Street Boxing Club is part of the Matt Dishman community center in N.E. Portland. It’s been around for a long time. Inside you can see trophies and newspaper clippings that go back to the 50’s. It was once a top boxing club in the nation, and produced championship level fighters. Back in the day there could be 70-90 kids at the gym everyday. It has remained a solid community club in a neighborhood that has gone through a lot of changes. 
Boxing gyms are often recognized for helping to keep kids out of trouble by giving them a place to go and teaching them the value of discipline and hard work. 

Knott Street plays another important role in the community: it brings people from different backgrounds together. Portland has become more expensive, and as a result, less diverse and more divided. At Knott Street, people from all different backgrounds- race, income, age- come together. It’s one of Portland’s few melting pots. You go to Knott Street and spend time with people you might not otherwise know. These kinds of institutions are fundamental in teaching kids to understand prejudice. And inside a boxing gym, the only way you can feel superior to someone else is by working harder than them.  None of this would be possible without Stanley Dunn, who acts as the coach and mentor to the boys and girls who train at Knott Street. When I boxed there, I was struck by Stanley’s commitment to the club. He puts his whole heart into it, almost every day. He’s been doing it for over 16 years.

Stanley and the kids at Knott Street Boxing

At Knott Street, Stanley teaches the sweet science to anyone who wants to learn. He teaches the kids how to be humble when they win, and how to deal with loss. He inspires them to be fit and take responsibility for their health. He helps them rise to their full competence. He even picks them up if they have no way to get to the gym.  

Stanley does all this for no pay. He doesn’t ask for pay. He is truly dedicated to serving the community by always being there for the kids. When Covid hit and training indoors became a risk, he trained the kids at Dawson park. Often a scene of drug addiction and crime, he turned it into a positive environment. The whole neighborhood, the police and ambulances, clapped their hands and honked their horns in support as they passed by. 

Photos courtesy Knott Street Boxing Facebook page

Knott Street Boxing Club subsists on donations. It needs new equipment and more resources to keep its members involved. It needs funds to be able to put on exhibitions and travel to tournaments; the cheapest way to do this is to purchase a van to transport the boxing ring for set-up at exhibitions and for the team to travel to tournaments. And it needs the financial ability to help the kids who can’t afford the $20 monthly youth memberships.
The dream is to restore competitive greatness to the Knott Street Boxing Club by enabling it to compete. This gives the kids something to work towards. The minimum necessity is to keep the gym going, and provide the necessary equipment for it’s members to train.

There is a lot of awareness being raised right now about race and inequality in America. Donating to a charity or cause to help bring change to these issues is a good thing. I encourage you to research how your donations are being used, and better understand how you are helping. One of the best ways to help is by investing directly in your community. Small places like Knott Street make a big impact on the community. Knott Street is a throwback- there aren’t too many places like it around anymore. Let’s help keep it going and make it accessible to anyone who needs it, regardless of their income. 

The easiest way to donate is through the facebook page. Go to: www.facebook.com/knottstboxingclub and click on the “Donate” tab. 

Any questions, email Knott Street directly at knottstboxing@yahoo.com

 

Letter from LUTC Chair

This is a hard time to write a Land Use and Transportation update. Between the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the police murder of George Floyd, and the Portland police’s escalating tactics against protesters, it is hard to see anything but police reform and supporting our most vulnerable neighbors as the top priorities.

If you have the means, some ways to support the local Black community are to eat at Black owned restaurants (https://iloveblackfood.com/pdx-directory/) or support Black owned businesses (https://mercatuspdx.com/directory/black-owned-businesses). The Black Resilience Fund is accepting donations and giving funds directly to Black Portlanders in need (https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-black-resilience-fund).

Local non-profits that help our most vulnerable neighbors, like the Blanchet House (https://blanchethouse.org), are still accepting volunteers amid the COVID-19 crisis to help with meal service and preparation if you have available time and are not part of a high risk group in regard to COVID-19.

Please take care of each other and stay safe.