The FISH Food Pantry’s annual fall food drive took place Saturday at four area supermarkets.

Food was collected for several hours at Safeway, Albertsons, Sherm’s Thunderbird and Fred Meyer. Volunteers helped with the effort at each store.

FISH Food Pantry Board Chair Nis Jessen said Saturday’s drive will help provide emergency food to many people in need. FISH provides food to about 3,500 people a month and gets about 90 new clients looking for food help each month. About one-third of those receiving assistance are children, he said.

“This is an important part of the total package that we do,” Jessen said. “People are gratified to be able to have the food. It’s making a difference in people’s lives.”

At the Safeway store, FISH volunteer Maria Casas said she felt compelled to lend a hand.

“There’s a lot of people that need help, and I’m a helper,” Casas said. “That’s who I am.”

Shopper Tressa Taylor grabbed a sheet listing the pantry’s needs as she entered the store and bought a jar of peanut butter — the top item on the list — to donate.

“I try to be helpful when I can,” Taylor said. “Every little bit helps.”

At Fred Meyer, FISH board vice president Penny Reed said donations Saturday were a bit higher than previous food drives.

“It’s a beautiful, sunny day, so that helps,” Reed said, adding that one benefit of the food drive is that it raises awareness in the community. Many people in the area don’t realize just how many people struggle to put food on the table, she said.

“Even though there are fewer people unemployed, there are still lots of people with food insecurity,” Reed said. “We’re so glad we’re there for them. People are so appreciative for the food.”

The Food Pantry still needs a variety of foods, including: Canned vegetables, flour, peanut butter, baby food, boxed cereal, canned soup and canned tuna and meat. The pantry also needs a number of non-food items, including toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, and other hygiene items. The need is especially dire high among the homeless — who comprise about one-third of all people who visit the pantry, Jessen said.

The FISH Food Pantry is located at 405 NE Jerrys Drive in Roseburg. For information call 541-672-5242.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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