Many Oregon families are getting a hand with basic food supplies right now because of a USDA program where Pacific Coast Fruit Co. is distributing 20 million pounds of fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

Pacific Coast Fruit is delivering 810,000 “Farm To Families” food boxes to dozens of non-profits in Oregon and Washington, as well as select areas of Northern California and Northern Idaho through June. It is part of a nationwide $1.2 billion coronavirus food assistance program.

Pacific Coast Fruit won an initial six-week contract to service the Pacific Northwest. It came at an ideal time, as the food service portion of Pacific Coast Fruit’s business dried up due to lack of demand from pandemic-impacted restaurants.

The program not only keeps people fed, it provides many businesses work, including farms and transportation companies.

Pacific Coast Fruit began delivering the food boxes – weighing approximately 25 to 27 pounds – the week of May 18. Last week it delivered boxes to 80 different locations in Oregon and Washington.

From there, the non-profits distribute to its various outlets. The Archdiocese of Portland, for example, distributes the Pacific Coast Fruit boxes at 30 different parishes during the week. For the most part, the food boxes are available to anyone in need, distributed during a block of time each week.

Tom Brugato, president of Pacific Coast Fruit, says the boxes contain enough food to feed a family of four for a week. The produce boxes have a mix of fruit and vegetables. The dairy boxes contain two gallons of milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. There’s also a combined produce and dairy box that includes some cured meats.

Even at 135,000 boxes each week, Brugato says they’re seeing demand for an additional 30,000 boxes.

“It’s humbling to see how many people out there really need these boxes,” Brugato said.

Though Pacific Coast Fruit won the contract, the undertaking was such that it has farmed some of work to Charlie’s Produce in Portland, and Medo Sweet Farms in Kent, Washington, for dairy.

Pacific Coast Fruit finds out next week if its USDA contract will extend beyond June. Brugato is hopeful to be a part of the program through the end of 2020.

For more information regarding food box pickup sites, contact these Portland-area and Southwest Washington non-profits:

  • Oregon Food Bank
  • Food Lifeline
  • Sunshine Division
  • Archdiocese of Portland
  • Beaverton School District
  • Portland Public Schools
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Blanchet House

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