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A boon to the hungry

February 4, 2011

By Theresa Novak
Gazette-Times Editor

Customers of the Market of Choice store at Circle Boulevard and Ninth Street now have another option at the checkout line as well as how to pay and what kind of bag they’d like: They also can choose, if they wish, to donate $1, $5 or $10 to Linn Benton Food Share to feed the region’s hungry.

The upscale grocery, bulk foods, organics and gourmet one-stop launched its scan program Monday by posting signs at the checkout. Customers who ask are informed of the program, but donations are not solicited. In three days, the store collected more than $200 for the Food Share. gazettetimes

Those who accept will see the donation reflected on their receipt, so they can file it as a charitable deduction at tax time. Launched at Market of Choice’s flagship store in Eugene in 1996, since then the scan program has provided Food For Lane County with $819,000.

CEO Rick Wright said Thursday that it now will be a permanent part of the Corvallis store, which opened in October as one of eight stores from Portland to Ashland.

Market of Choice originally had hoped to have the scan program in place by March, but things fell in place sooner and the first donation was scanned through Monday.

Although there’s no way yet of knowing how much will be raised through the local program, knowing how successful it’s been in Eugene is encouraging to Susan James of Food Share.

She said the scan program is a lifeline to a program that distributes 4.7 million pounds of food each year through its 74 network agencies – and has seen its demand go up and donations go down along with the economy in recent years.

Market of Choice also has joined Fred Meyer, Albertsons, Ray’s Market and Walmart in Food Share’s Fresh Alliance campaign, adding another 5,500 pounds of edible but close to expiration food products a month, including dairy, produce, meats and baked goods.

“They might be getting some gourmet items, too,” Wright said.

But the cash donations from the scan program are likely to be the biggest boon, said James. For each $1 of cash donated, Food Share volunteers can buy $15 worth of food, primarily by purchasing nutritious items such as oatmeal and peanut butter in bulk and repackaging them for distribution.

The timing couldn’t be better, James said, as the demand for services continues to grow. “We’ve seen a 30 percent increase in demand over the last month,” she said.

Photo by Andy Cripe, Gazette-Times