The ReStore networks for Ellsworth Backpack Thursday

Bundled in with homework tablets and yellow pencils, students in Vancouver and Evergreen ISD are taking food home to their families.

About 40 students at Ellsworth Elementary participate in the Thursday Backpack program, said Maria Dorshkind, outreach coordinator of the Family & Community Resource Center at Ellsworth. Family volunteers called “natural leaders” assemble the small food bags students pick up at the school’s food bank.  They also put together larger bags and boxes of food distributed to families on the second and last Tuesdays of each month. 

It’s part of a much bigger program – a program that distributed 17,000 pounds of food last year through FCRC Fresh Food Pantries and several elementary schools across the two districts. 

“That was when there were only three pantries–now there are five, plus a mobile food pantry," said Melanie Green, Family Involvement administrator at Evergreen FCRC.  

Melanie said the Mobile Food Pantry is a new endeavor with Share, Clark County Food Bank, as well as the First United Methodist Church, whose church bus doubles as the mobile food pantry.

“Most of our food donations come from Share, but we also supplement our pantries with donations from stores, along with donations from teachers, staff and other individuals that 
donate,” she explained.

Large food donations are picked up and delivered by Evergreen Habitat for Humanity volunteers on Tuesdays. So when Hallmark Resorts donated 15 large refrigerators to the ReStore, Mark Haley, The ReStore’s business relations director, immediately thought of the need of nearby Ellsworth Elementary. Though the fridges were destined for the Canby/Woodbury ReStore, Mark and Canby ReStore Director Connie Farrier coordinated efforts so that two were delivered to the Ellsworth Elementary FCRC program. 

"As a ReStore we rely on the generosity of our community to provide us with donated product, it gives us great pleasure that we can partner with other organizations who are also working hard to better our communities," Connie said.

Between the 10 FCRC locations about 450 supplemental backpack food bags are distributed to students each week. 

"We're proud to be partnering with this like-minded entity that serves families, creates community partnerships and utilizes volunteers," said Mark. "This sustainable program is a great example of what can happen when people purpose to put their passions and convictions into practice. The families impacted will always remember what was done for them and will hopefully be spurred on to acts of service to others themselves. Great job to you all and keep up the good work!"  

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