Gleaners group seeking permanent home

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
Serving the community since 1980, the Lebanon Gleaners is looking for a place to finally call home.
Currently, the nonprofit’s based at the Lebanon Foursquare Church, 470 W. C St. Volunteers haul food and other commodities there every week for distribution to nearly 40 members, then pack it all away again in the afternoon.

VOLUNTEER Cori Brown unpacks donated cereal to be distributed to members.

Early every Monday, volunteers such as Rita Wilson and Debbie Koester begin unloading fruits, vegetables, juice, canned goods, dry food, pet food, diapers and cleaning supplies into the church’s Sunday school room. More volunteers arrive to unpack and prepare the items in banana boxes for distribution, while Koester drives to Albany and Corvallis for fresh produce.
“We would love to find a place where we can keep everything set up,” Wilson said.
She said she keeps most of the food and all the cold-storage items in her own garage, leaving her just enough space to walk a path through boxes.
The food comes from such places as Trader Joe’s, Oregon Freeze Dry and Linn Benton Food Share. Also, farmers invite the group to harvest leftover food from their fields. Household goods come from Target.
When asked about the necessity of a Gleaners in town, volunteers are quick to respond affirmatively. According to Wilson, other food-sharing organizations are more limited in what they have and when they distribute, but the Gleaners has enough food to feed twice as many people as it currently serves.
Members are required to volunteer four hours a month.
“You have to participate to get what you get,” volunteer Cori Brown said. “Some people don’t want to go to a food bank because they view it as a handout.”
The group serves families, low-income households and senior citizens. Members pay $15 monthly dues, which help cover rent, insurance and transportation, while monetary donations pay for food to be distributed. In return, they receive a couple of large boxes full of food and products once a week.
Recently, the nonprofit’s van broke down, but three days later another van was donated.
Now there’s just that one last need.
“Why can’t we be lucky enough for somebody to donate us a place?,” Wilson asked.
For more information on the Lebanon Gleaners, call (541) 409-4017 or send an email to [email protected], or visit lebanongleaners.wixsite.com/glean.