Most college students would agree that free food is not only the most celebrated find, but also an incredibly rare one. However, the Free Food Market, administered by the Oregon Food Bank, strives to ensure that students and community members in the Forest Grove area have consistent access to free food. 

September of this year, the Center for a Sustainable Society registered Pacific University as a host site for this renowned program with the goal of making free, healthy food accessible to everyone in the Forest Grove community. 

Every fourth Monday of the month, the Free Food Market sets up on Marsh Lawn from 10:30 a.m. until noon. The market offers healthy foods and pantry staples to the public at no cost. 

To ensure that the food is of the highest quality possible, all produce is delivered to the market fresh directly from the Oregon Food Bank. The Oregon Food Bank also delivers culturally-relevant food in an attempt to meet the needs of Forest Grove’s diverse community.

“These are the foods I’d go to the store and want but not buy, afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish [them] myself,” shared Allie Treadway, a student at Pacific and market regular. She believes the market to be beneficial for the community because it offers healthy foods that may otherwise be too expensive or inaccessible to purchase from the store.

“It’s basic things you’d think everyone would have, but they don’t,” Treadway mentioned, highlighting the importance of Pacific’s implementation of this program.

Because it is an open distribution market, people are welcome to take as much food as they want, without questioning. This makes sure the food is accessible for all. The market is an official no ID market which protects the confidentiality of all those who attend. 

Daniel Badel, a volunteer at the Free Food Market, believes the market creates a strong community.

“The market welcomes the community to come out and get fresh food from the Oregon Food Bank,” Badel said. “It’s not on them [community members] to go to the facility in order to get the food. It’s community based.”

Ron Calkins, manager of B Street Farms, feels the same. “I think it brings the community and the population of Pacific University together in yet another way,” he shared. 

Being the farthest western site in all of Washington County, Pacific University’s program is able to reach community members in rural areas beyond the restraints of Forest Grove — it’s something the Center for a Sustainable Society takes pride in. 

“The biggest benefit,” Calkins said, “is you get to do something good.”

Pacific University decided to partner with the Oregon Food Bank to organize this partnership in an attempt to share the resources we have here on campus. Because our university represents a major social hub here in Forest Grove, the implementation of the Free Food Market is a vital step in the right direction for the community. 

“I think that the people that need it the most are benefitting from it,” Calkins said in regards to locating the market on campus. “College students fit that bill perfectly.”

Mark your calendars and pack your grocery bags for Nov. 25 and Dec. 30 — the two final Free Food Market dates set for 2019. Students looking for another way to attain free, delicious, healthy foods can check out the Boxer FoodShare open in Scott Hall (room 216) during posted hours. 

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